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Newt Gingrich launches staunch defense of Jim Mattis

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich speaking at the 2012 CPAC in Washington, D.C. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
January 03, 2019

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich came out in support of former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Thursday, this after President Donald Trump said this week that he “essentially fired” Mattis.

“General Jim Mattis is a remarkable patriot who has served America with dedication, courage and professionalism. Any suggestion otherwise is false and irresponsible,” Gingrich said. “Every American should be grateful for Mattis’ lifetime of service.”

During a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Trump took a jab at Mattis, saying he “essentially” fired the former Defense Secretary, according to The Washington Times.

“What’s he done for me? How had he done in Afghanistan? Not too good,” Trump reportedly said. “As you know, President Obama fired him, and essentially so did I.”

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Mattis had submitted a letter of resignation to Trump less than two weeks ago. Trump confirmed the news in a tweet late on Dec. 20, confirming that Mattis was “retiring, with distinction.”

“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’ letter, which cited differences of opinion with Trump, stated that he vowed to remain in the role until Feb. 28, 2019, to “allow sufficient time for a successor to be nominated.”

However, within days, Trump announced that Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan would take over as Acting Defense Secretary as of Jan. 1, pushing Mattis out nearly two months ahead of his intended departure date.

“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. Patrick has a long list of accomplishments while serving as Deputy, & previously Boeing. He will be great!” Trump tweeted.

Trump was reportedly angered by Mattis’ resignation letter and the media coverage of it in the following days, which led to the escalation of Mattis’ replacement.

In what has been considered a jab toward Mattis, Trump tweeted on Dec. 22, saying, “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.”

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Despite President Trump’s remarks on Mattis’ departure, Mattis is said to hold no contempt toward the President for his decision to push Mattis out.

“He was very calm about the whole thing. Very matter of fact. No anger, ” said Tom Mattis, Jim Mattis’ brother.