Mattis resignation shakes Washington
by Lynde Langdon
Posted 12/21/18, 08:45 am
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he will soon step down just one day after the White House said it would withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. In a Thursday letter to President Donald Trump, Mattis said he would leave by the end of February. “You have a right to have a secretary of defense whose views are better aligned with yours,” he wrote. Mattis and the president disagreed not only on Syria but also the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. Trump reportedly has the Pentagon developing plans to withdraw up to half of the 14,000 American troops now serving there. Meanwhile, the Taliban has stepped up deadly attacks on Afghan soldiers and civilians in recent months.
Lawmakers from both parties expressed alarm and frustration at Mattis’ departure, saying the United States would suffer without his leadership.
“Secretary Mattis has been an island of stability amidst the chaos of the Trump administration,” tweeted Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. “As we’ve seen with the President’s haphazard approach to Syria, our national defense is too important to be subjected to the President’s erratic whims.” Numerous Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Sens. Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Marco Rubio of Florida, and Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, joined the chorus of concern.
“Just read Gen. Mattis resignation letter,” Rubio tweeted. “It makes it abundantly clear that we are headed towards a series of grave policy errors which will endanger our nation, damage our alliances & empower our adversaries.” McConnell said in a statement he was “particularly distressed that [Mattis] is resigning due to sharp differences with the president on these and other key aspects of America's global leadership.”
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