Defense Secretary James Mattis will leave the Trump administration early next year, President Donald Trump announced Thursday evening — one day after he unilaterally announced he is removing all American military troops from Syria.
In a resignation letter to Trump, Mattis made clear he had grown too disillusioned by his boss’s treatment of other U.S. allies and his “America first” philosophy.
“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 wrote.
“General Jim Mattis will be retiring, with distinction, at the end of February, after having served my Administration as Secretary of Defense for the past two years,” the commander in chief announced in a tweet.
“During Jim’s tenure, tremendous progress has been made, especially with respect to the purchase of new fighting........equipment,” he wrote in two tweets.
“General Mattis was a great help to me in getting allies and other countries to pay their share of military obligations,” he said.
Trump did not immediately name a nominee to replace the retired Marine Corps general. He wrote only that a “new Secretary of Defense will be named shortly.”
Mattis was widely considered by lawmakers as Trump’s wisest hire, and was seen as a moderating influence on the unpredictable president.
Democratic Sen. Christopher S. Murphy of Connecticut tweeted that a “Secretary of Defense quitting over a public disagreement with a President whose foreign policy he believes has gone off the rails is a national security crisis. No way around it.”
The coming nomination only adds to a growing to-do list for the new Senate next year. Trump has nominated a new attorney general and U.N. ambassador, and soon will have to pick nominees for the Interior Department and Pentagon.
Watch: Who’s Next? The Presidential Line of Succession, Explained