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Trump repeats that he fired Mattis, this time to NY Times

President Donald J. Trump departs from the Pentagon alongside Secretary of Defense James Mattis on Jan. 27, 2017, in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jette Carr/Department of Defense)
February 01, 2019
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A month after the effective replacement of Defense Secretary James Mattis, Trump continues to claim he fired the secretary, despite Mattis’ resignation letter sent Dec. 20.

In an interview with the New York Times early Friday, Trump said he demanded Mattis’ resignation.

“I wasn’t happy with Mattis,” Trump said. “I told Mattis to give me a letter. He didn’t just give me that letter. I told him.”

“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,” he added.

“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 explained further.

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Last month, Trump also asserted that he fired Mattis.

During a Cabinet meeting on Jan. 2, Trump took a jab at Mattis, saying he “essentially” fired the former Defense Secretary.

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

Mattis’ resignation letter surfaced suddenly on Dec. 20 in which he cited differences of opinion from Trump.

On the same day, Trump claimed that Mattis was retiring.

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“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!” Trump said in tweets.

In what has been considered a jab toward Mattis, President 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.”

In his resignation letter, Mattis said he would remain in his post until Feb. 28 to provide enough time for the President to find a replacement.

However, just three days later, Trump announced Mattis’ replacement, Pat Shanahan, would officially assume the role on Jan. 1.

In the Feb. 1 NYT interview, Trump suggested Shanahan could remain in the position.

“Historically a business person goes in to the secretary of defense,” Trump said, referring to Shanahan’s background as a Boeing executive, not a military figure. “He could stay. Pat Shanahan is doing a terrific job,” he added.

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