Donald Trump told members of his cabinet on Wednesday that he “essentially” fired Defense Secretary Jim Mattis when he moved the general’s retirement date up a few months. During his first cabinet meeting of 2019, the president criticized Mattis’ work in Afghanistan and said that he sent him packing because he wants “results,” according to Fox News, adding that he believes he would have made a good general.
Four-star general Mattis announced that he was retiring last month just days after Trump said he would be withdrawing American troops from Syria and Afghanistan. In a letter, Mattis said that he was leaving over differences with Trump on how to handle U.S. military policy, particularly when it comes to relationships with allies and adversaries like Russia. A few days later, Trump said in a tweet that Mattis would be leaving at the end of the year instead of the end of February, as Mattis planned.
Aides said that Trump pushed Mattis out because he was upset with the coverage his retirement was receiving in the media.
“I wish him well. I hope he does well. But, as you know, President Obama fired him and essentially so did I,” Trump said in Wednesday’s cabinet meeting. “I want results.”
During the meeting, Trump went on to criticize Mattis’ performance in Afghanistan, saying that the defense secretary secured millions in military funding, but hadn’t provided results for the money.
“What’s he done for me?” Trump asked. “How had he done in Afghanistan? Not too good. I’m not happy with what he’s done in Afghanistan and I shouldn’t be happy. He was very happy.”
He then continued, saying that he felt good about his decision to pull troops from Syria and claimed that he believes he would have been a good military leader himself.
“I said, ‘Why don’t you let them fight? Why are we getting in the middle of it?'” Trump said. “They’re both our enemies. Let them fight… I think I would’ve been a good general, but who knows.”
Trump received criticism for his lack of military record recently after the daughters of a foot doctor claimed that Trump’s medical exemption from military service was done as a favor to Trump’s father Fred. They claim their father examined the young Trump in the 1960s in order to provide him with a reason to avoid the draft. Trump received four deferments for education during the Vietnam war, but in 1968, at the age of 22, he was diagnosed with bone spurs in his foot, preventing him from serving in the war.