Defense Secretary James Mattis is leaving the administration at the end of February—making it clear he has a different worldview than President Donald Trump.
“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,” Mattis, a retired Marine general, said in his letter to Trump Thursday.
Trump first announced Mattis’ decision on Twitter.
Mattis announced his exit one day after the president declared plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria—prompting concern among many Republicans and Democrats in Congress.
“Secretary Mattis has served with distinction. His tireless actions to rebuild the readiness of the armed forces after years of neglect and in reassuring key allies have had extraordinarily positive outcomes for the U.S.,” Thomas Spoehr, the director of national defense for The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal. “Mattis is also right, it’s important that the president send clear and consistent messages to friends and competitors.”
Mattis has been highly respected on both sides.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the likely House speaker in January, used the Mattis departure to take a swipe at Trump.