Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is out in February, with Trump's surprise move to turn Syria over to Putin and Assad the last straw for the general.
Jim Mattis, the four-star Marine general turned defense secretary, resigned on Thursday in protest of President Trump’s decision to withdraw 2,000 American troops from Syria, where they have been fighting the Islamic State.
Mr. Trump announced the resignation in two tweets Thursday evening, and said Mr. Mattis will leave at the end of February.
Officials said Mr. Mattis went to the White House on Thursday afternoon in a last attempt to convince Mr. Trump to keep American troops in Syria. He was rebuffed, and told the president that he was resigning as a result.
Hours later, the Pentagon released Mr. Mattis’ resignation letter, in which he implicitly criticized his commander in chief. Mr. Mattis said in the letter that he believes that the president deserves a defense secretary who is more in tune with his worldview.
“One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships,” Mr. Mattis wrote.
“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,” he wrote.
[Read Mr. Mattis’ resignation letter here.]
His departure leaves the Trump administration without one of the few officials viewed as standing between a mercurial president and global tumult. The president said he would name Mr. Mattis’ replacement shortly.
Mattis's letter makes it clear that he believes Trump has no idea and no business being Commander-in-Chief, the old warhorse understands better than most that diplomacy and alliances are the key to America's place in the world, not tanks and bombers.
Mattis will tender his resignation on February 28, meaning at this point nearly all the major Cabinet players in the Trump regime's first two years are effectively gone in various swirling clouds of failure and scandal: Rex Tillerson at State, Jeff Sessions at Justice, Ryan Zinke at Interior, David Shulkin at Veterans Affairs, Tom Price at Health and Human Services, Nikki Haley as UN Ambassador, Scott Pruitt at the Environmental Protection Agency, both Mike Flynn and K.T. McFarland as National Security Advisers, and both Reince Priebus and John Kelly as White House Chiefs of Staff.
Wilbur Ross at Commerce and Kirstjen Nielsen at Homeland Security are hanging on by threads due to growing scandals of their own, and after the performance of the stock markets in the last three weeks, don't be surprised if Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin's head is on the block too.
Still, by my count, that leaves zero adults in the room to keep an eye on Trump now, and the rats can't leave the sinking ship of state quickly enough.
Mattis was livid over Syria withdrawal, potential Afghanistan withdrawal & being kept out of decisions by John Bolton. He saw POTUS overruling him on joint chiefs of staff chair as humiliation. He disliked Trump's friendliness w/Putin, among other things. https://t.co/t4hqFtRYPz— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) December 21, 2018
At this point, we're off the map.