Donald Trump is furious at Jim Mattis.
On Thursday evening, Mattis delivered a veritable gut punch to the Oval Office by way of a stunning resignation letter that was first and foremost a public rebuke of Trump’s “America first” mantra.
At “best”, the letter suggested the Pentagon is profoundly concerned about the President’s treatment of U.S. allies and blatant disregard for alliances. At worst, Mattis appeared to suggest that in his view, Trump is a threat to national and global security.
Trump was said to be displeased with the letter, but even more displeased with the media’s coverage. Of course the press didn’t need to “spin” this one – the letter spoke for itself.
Initially, Trump tried to play down the resignation and spoke highly of Mattis despite the Defense Secretary’s resignation.
“General Mattis was a great help to me in getting allies and other countries to pay their share of military obligations”, the President tweeted on Thursday, just minutes before the full text of Mattis’ letter started making the rounds. “I greatly thank Jim for his service!”
Predictably, that sentiment did not last. Stinging from rampant criticism of his decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria and wounded from speculation that the move represents nothing more than a concession to Turkey’s Erdogan, Trump blasted Mattis on Saturday evening as follows:
When President Obama ingloriously fired Jim Mattis, I gave him a second chance. Some thought I shouldn’t, I thought I should. Interesting relationship-but I also gave all of the resources that he never really had. Allies are very important-but not when they take advantage of U.S.
Fast forward to Sunday and reports suggested Trump will remove Mattis on January 1 in retaliation for the tone of his resignation letter.
“President Trump, angry over days of news coverage characterizing the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis as a rebuke of the president, has told administration officials that he is considering removing Mr. Mattis from his job by Jan. 1, two months before he had planned to depart”, the New York Times wrote, just before lunchtime.
Just minutes later, Trump confirmed the reports.
“I am pleased to announce that our very talented Deputy Secretary of Defense, Patrick Shanahan, will assume the title of Acting Secretary of Defense starting January 1, 2019”, he tweeted.
Hilariously, Trump would go on to effectively lend credence to the notion that the decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria was in fact Erdogan’s, not the White House’s.
“I just had a long and productive call with President Erdogan of Turkey”, he tweeted, just 12 minutes after confirming that Mattis is being ousted on January 1. “We discussed ISIS, our mutual involvement in Syria, and the slow and highly coordinated pullout of U.S. troops from the area.”
Yes, “highly coordinated” – with Turkey.
Read more on Erdogan’s role in the decision
So, Donald Trump is going to let his pride get in the way of marking a smooth transition at the Pentagon.
Of course this only serves to validate the sentiments expressed by Mattis in his resignation letter.
This sums it up best: