Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will leave his position on Jan. 1, President Donald Trump announced this week in a tweet.
Mattis resigned his post after Trump announced he would pull all 2,000 U.S. troops out of Syria. He had planned to stay through February, but Trump’s decision will put deputy defense chief Patrick Shanahan as acting secretary starting in January.
“Deputy Secretary will continue to serve as directed by the president, and the Department of Defense will remain focused on the defense of the nation,” Lt. Col. Joseph Buccino, a spokesman for Shanahan, said.
Trump’s acting chief of staff said earlier this week that Trump had known for “quite some time now” that he and Mattis “did not share some of the same philosophies.” He said they “could never get on the same page” on Syria.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says Trump needs to reconsider pulling American troops out of Syria.
“We believe that such action at this time is a premature and costly mistakes that not only threatens the safety and security of the United States but also emboldens” the Islamic State group, President Bashar Assad’s government, Iran and Russia,” he said in a letter with other Republicans.
They have asked Trump to wait 90 days before making a decision, but Mike Mulvaney told ABC there isn’t a chance Trump will change his mind.
“I think the president has told people from the very beginning that he doesn’t want us to stay in Syria forever. You’re seeing the end result now of two years’ worth of work.
“But keep in mind it’s not unusual for a president to lose members of the Cabinet over these types of disagreements.”
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