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Mattis resigning as Secretary of Defense in February, Trump says

Then-U.S. Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis meets with Lithuania's Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Nov. 28, 2018. (DoD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith)
December 20, 2018

In a tweet sent by President Trump late Thursday, it was revealed that Defense Secretary James Mattis will be retiring in February.

“General Jim Mattis will be retiring, with distinction, at the end of February, after having served my Administration as Secretary of Defense for the past two years. During Jim’s tenure, tremendous progress has been made, especially with respect to the purchase of new fighting equipment. General Mattis was a great help to me in getting allies and other countries to pay their share of military obligations. A new Secretary of Defense will be named shortly. I greatly thank Jim for his service!” the tweets said.

Mattis, 68, is a retired four-star Marine Corps general with a career spanning 44 years. He previously headed the U.S. Central Command overseeing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mattis’ retirement reportedly stems from differences of opinion with the President.

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He wrote President Trump a letter saying, “because you have a right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours … I believe it is right for me to step down from my position.”

The announcement comes one day after President Trump announced the full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria and a bold declaration that ISIS was defeated, despite contradictions from the Pentagon and criticisms from Republican members of Congress.

The announcement also takes place months after news reports surfaced of tensions between President Trump and Mattis over differences in opinion over various policies.

Each time, Trump and Mattis both denounced reports of any conflict between them.

In October, President Trump said Mattis was “sort of a Democrat” and predicted he would resign. “He may leave,” Trump said at the time. “I mean, at some point, everybody leaves. Everybody. People leave. That’s Washington.”

In July, reports suggested that the relationship between Trump and Mattis was souring, citing President Trump’s failure to notify Mattis before making decisions to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, halt military exercises with South Korea, or establish a Space Force as a sixth military branch.

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White House officials said at the time that the two didn’t “see eye to eye” and “were never especially close.” One official said that Mattis wasn’t in Trump’s inner circle for decision making.

Mattis was the most approved member of the Trump Administration and hailed as one of the greatest military minds of our time.