Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis announced his resignation in December, citing disagreements with the president on foreign policy. He was replaced by Deputy Secretary of Defence Patrick Shanahan on January 1, who is now serving as acting secretary.
President Trump said he effectively pushed General Mattis to resign from his post as Secretary of Defence.
“I didn’t like the job he was doing. I wasn’t happy with it. I wasn’t happy with the – I got him more money than the military has ever seen before. And I wasn’t happy with the job that he was doing at all. And I said ‘it’s time.’,” Trump said, speaking to the New York Times.
“That’s why in the letter he wrote, ‘You have to have your own choice.’ The reason he said that was because I said, ‘You’re just not my choice’,” Trump added.
According to Trump, acting Secretary Shanahan, who was appointed to replace Mattis last month, was “doing a terrific job.”
Mattis announced plans to step down as Secretary of Defence in late December, immediately after President Trump announced that he would be withdrawing the contingent of 2,000 US troops from Syria. Mattis initially planned to step down in late February, but forced by Trump to leave by January 1.
Mattis was one of several senior officials who resigned following Trump’s announcement on Syria, and was joined by special anti-Daesh coalition envoy Brett McGurk, DoD spokeswoman Dana White, and Pentagon Chief of Staff Kevin Sweeney, all of whom quit between late December and early January.
In his resignation letter, Mattis said he made his decision because President Trump had “the right to have a Secretary of State whose views are better aligned” with his own on issues including commitment to US alliances and the war against Daesh (ISIS).*
*A terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.