President Donald Trump has crafted an administration with himself at the middle. He’s shown little hesitation in firing key government officials if they don’t fall in line with his agenda — and according to a new report from The New York Times, Defense Secretary and retired General James Mattis may be next.
The report outlines how as time has gone on, Trump has grown to resent the position Mattis is in as an “adult in the room,” to use the parlance of a recent anonymous op-ed highly critical of the president. The author of that piece works in the Trump administration, they said, but Mattis has said it isn’t him — but that isn’t where the president’s issues with the official end.
Mattis has refused to become an attack dog for the president, exemplifying his choices through such means as repeated refusals to go on Fox & Friends in defense of the president’s policies. In response, Trump is reported to be keen on appointing a Defense Secretary who’s more of a vocal supporter of his agenda than Mattis is. The Defense official hasn’t even given many interviews at all since assuming his position, described by his former spokesperson as “genetically incapable” of lying and disloyalty — which has put him in a tough spot in the Trump administration. He’s chosen to adapt to that tough spot through the resigned silence the president is so adamantly against.
That’s right — national security decisions are being made in view of what makes the president look good and not what’s actually the best situation for the country — and world at large, for that matter. Anonymous officials speaking to The Times believe that the president may push him out after the midterm elections later this year.
He’s acted as a control on the president’s erratic impulses time and time again while on the job. For instance, he’s reported to have talked the president down from his aims to order torture for detainees accused of terrorism, and he’s said to have talked up the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) — although that latter effort hasn’t proven entirely successful. Trump has still gone into NATO meetings proclaiming himself to be the best guy in the room, basically — because his aims to satiate his ego never end. He made up that countries were manipulating the U.S. and then claimed credit for solving the crisis — although it may as well be said to have never existed in the first place.
In addition to the ideological clashes, Trump’s team has itself grown more anti-Mattis. The president replaced his former National Security Adviser — the Army’s Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster — with John Bolton, a fervent warmonger. His deputy is Mira Ricardel, who The Times describes as having a “history of bad blood with Mr. Mattis” that includes her blocking his efforts to appoint who he wanted in the Defense Department during the transition era.
It all adds up to the president yet again subverting norms of governance to push his personal agenda. He’s the president of the United States, but with the way he acts — possibly soon pushing out Attorney General Jeff Sessions too — you’d think he was the president of Trump Tower.
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