WASHINGTON. President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that his current Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, is retiring at the end of February, 2019. Trump said Mattis is stepping down “with distinction” after serving as Defense secretary for two years. Trump said Mattis was a great help in getting US allies and other countries to pay their share of military obligations.
….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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 20, 2018
Secretary Mattis’ resignation comes a day after President Trump announced that the United States is pulling all 2,000 American troops out of Syria.
Differences of opinion at the top
Later, the Pentagon released a copy of Mattis’ signed resignation letter. In the letter Mattis said it was a “privilege to serve” as defense secretary. In writing to Trump, Mattis said that “a strong nation relies on a comprehensive network of alliances, and must be “resolute and unambiguous when it comes to dealing with countries with strategic differences, such as China and Russia.”
But in explaining his decision to step down, Mattis employed Washingtonspeak to indicate a policy gap had grown between his views on Defense and the President’s.
“Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position.”
James Mattis details a delayed departure
Mattis set his departure date for February 28, 2019, saying that it would give the President and the Defense Department (DoD) enough time to find a replacement and have him/her nominated and confirmed. The Secretary pledged to put forth his full efforts to effect a smooth transition.
Mattis has routinely won bipartisan praise for his intellect and integrity and for his long and distinguished service to the country. His military career frequently found him front and center in the fight against radical Islam and terrorism.
A frank and honest exchange of views
Mattis’ resignation comes after a sharp turn in a relationship with the President that once appeared strong. During Mattis’ early days as Defense secretary, he often dined with President Trump in the White House residence.
Finally, Mattis has more frequently differed forcefully with President Trump on proposals the president promoted to deal with controversial issues. These included a proposed ban on permitting transgendered individuals to serve in the nation’s armed forces. In addition, the President also launched a new US Space Force, and promoted a military parade in Washington, D.C. The latter was intended to draw attention to and honor America’s armed forces and their unswerving service to the citizens of this country.
MSM finds another excuse to trash Trump for a military disengagement Obama claimed to champion
Most recently, Mattis has questioned whether or not Trump’s decision to exit the Iran deal would prove the best choice. As expected, the media promptly put an anti-Trump spin on the news. This occurred despite the fact that the President has effectively implemented a military disengagement strategy. Both Democrats and their media allies supported similar policies during the Obama years.
Typical of this anti-Trump spin is a headline story in the left-leaning Business Insider. It begins with writer John Haltiwanger’s partisan mischaracterization of James Mattis’ resignation letter. Haltiwanger describes it in blistering terms, calling it a “sharp rebuke” criticizing Trump’s policies as “bombastic” and “isolationist.”
“James Mattis on Thursday stepped down as defense secretary, issuing a resignation letter that stands as a sharp rebuke of President Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ philosophy.”
“In his resignation letter, Mattis ripped into the president’s bombastic, isolationist approach to foreign affairs.”
None of these “bombastic” terms appear in the Defense Secretary’s resignation letter, nor are they implied. While his letter certain does indicate differences of opinion between the Secretary and the President.
But James Mattis is not one to smear the boss on the way out, as Haltiwanger alleges.
You can read the letter elsewhere in Business Insider and see this for yourself.
A more “fair and balanced” approach to the Mattis story
On the other hand, we find another very different report on the Mattis resignation today on Newsmax. Newsmax cites a Fox and Friends interview with White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders Friday in which Sanders indicated that President Trump and Defense Secretary James Mattis “still have a good relationship” despite the fact that at times they have differed on policy matters.
“‘The president listens to all of his national security team, which is a big group. He takes their advice. And at the end of the day, he makes the decision. That’s what he was elected to do.’
“She added that was the ‘right thing and the honorable thing’ for Mattis to step aside, if he no longer feels he is the right person to be defense secretary.
“‘He has also served the president and this country,’ said Sanders. ‘He served in this administration for two years and he served the country in the military for over four decades.’
“The administration has the ‘highest amount of respect’ for Mattis and looks forward to working with him until his resignation takes effect in two months.
“‘He is not just walking out the door,’ said Sanders. ‘This will be an orderly process and will continue to be a good relationship over the next couple of months.'”
—Terry Ponick contributed to this article
— Headline image: President Trump with Secretary of Defense James Mattis at the Pentagon.
(DoD, US government photo, in the public domain, via Wikipedia entry on Jim Mattis.)