Pentagon Chief of Staff Kevin Sweeney has resigned, according to CBS News.
Sweeney, a retired Rear Admiral from the U.S. Navy, returned to the Pentagon after a brief stint in the private sector. He announced that he would no longer be serving at the Pentagon.
“After two years in the Pentagon, I’ve decided the time is right to return to the private sector. It has been an honor to serve again alongside the men and women of the Department of Defense.”
Sweeney’s resignation comes a couple of weeks after Trump’s former Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, tendered his resignation on December 20. Mattis had abruptly resigned a day after Trump’s announcement to withdraw all troops from Syria. It is speculated that Mattis did not entertain the same view, and didn’t want Trump to withdraw the troops. Shortly after his resignation, he told the Washington Post that there had been clear differences between them, saying that Trump acted on “impulse” rather than carefully considered thought. He claimed Trump didn’t read at all and would often lie, making the job to communicate with him effectively impossible.
As Pentagon Chief of Staff, Sweeney served with Mattis after he was tapped by the latter. In his role, he advised and counseled Mattis. It is quite likely that he shared Mattis’ views on U.S. foreign policy and the need for continued military presence in Syria. While he claims to have quit for other reasons, there is no doubt this development will increase the clamor around Washington that people within the Trump administration are getting increasingly agitated with the president.
Kevin Sweeney, the chief of staff to the secretary of defense, has stepped down, weeks after former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis resigned in protest https://t.co/LhNUdWoRNY
— The New York Times (@nytimes) January 6, 2019
Sweeney’s resignation also means that under Trump — at the time of writing — there is no permanent Chief of Staff, Attorney General, Secretary of Defense, or Pentagon Chief of Staff. This alone is cause for alarm, seeing as how Trump is entering the third year of his presidency. Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions also left their positions late last year. As the Washington Examiner reports, within the Pentagon, “other administration officials including Brett McGurk, the special presidential envoy for the global coalition to counter ISIS, and Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White have also departed their posts.”
This is another soft blow for an administration already reeling with the current impasse of a three-week-long government shutdown, several criminal indictments, and a reinvigorated Democratic base after their victory in the November midterms.