Just five days before Christmas, Defense Secretary James Mattis resigned after after clashing with Mr. Trump over the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan. In his resignation letter, Mattis said that Trump deserved a defense secretary “better aligned” with his views.
On Saturday, not even three weeks after his resignation, the Defense Department announced that Rear Admiral Kevin Sweeney has stepped down as Chief of Staff to the Secretary of Defense. Sweeney had served in this role since January 2017.
Defense Department Announces Departure of Chief of Staff
"Rear Admiral Kevin Sweeney, USN (Ret.), has stepped down as Chief of Staff to the Secretary of Defense." pic.twitter.com/wxwpP1588Z
— CivMilAir ✈🐈 (@CivMilAir) January 5, 2019
In a statement, Sweeney said:
‘After two years in the Pentagon, I’ve decided the time is right to return to the private sector. It has been an honor to serve again alongside the men and women of the Department of Defense.’
At the end of December, Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White also announced her resignation. White tweeted last month:
‘I appreciate the opportunity afforded to me by this administration to serve alongside Secretary Mattis, our Service members and all the civilians who support them. It has been my honor and privilege. Stay safe and God bless.’
White, who was appointed by Trump, had been under investigation by the inspector general after multiple complaints were filed against her. According to CNN:
‘White is alleged to have misused support staff, asking them to fetch her dry cleaning, run to the pharmacy for her and work on her mortgage paperwork, among other things. Staffers also accused White of inappropriately transferring personnel after they filed complaints about her.’
Here’s what Twitter had to say about Sweeney’s resignation:
Mattis’ resignation has been thought to be connected to Trump’s sudden withdraw of U.S. troops from Syria. According to an article in The New York Times earlier this week, Trump claims to have “essentially” fired Mattis because he was dissatisfied with Mr. Mattis’s performance in the top civilian job at the Pentagon.
Mattis went to see the president in an effort to change his mind about the withdrawal of troops. However, it was reported that he had already drafted a resignation letter that did not mention the Kurdish led Syrian Democratic Forces or Syria but repeatedly referred to the importance to US national security of respecting allies, and confronting strategic adversaries.
Regardless of all the details, significant things are happening within the Department of Defense, and it is clear that the department is crumbling and no one wants to work under the commander-in-chief.
“Meet The Press” moderator Chuck Todd said:
‘We may look back on the Mattis resignation as the beginning of the functional end of this presidency.’
Meet the Press moderator @chucktodd looks at Republican lawmakers' response to the government shutdown and the importance of Gen. Mattis resigning. "We may look back on the Mattis resignation as the beginning of the functional end of this presidency," Todd says. pic.twitter.com/h4X9EU5xEi
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) December 23, 2018
Todd also pointed out that Republican lawmakers “largely” viewed Mattis as someone they were comfortable with handling foreign policy far more than Mr. Trump. Todd said:
‘With Mattis gone, when you think about Senate Republicans as a group … they are basically what keeps the Republican Party, coalition that prop Trump up at this point or vice versa, together,” Todd said. “If they break as a group, the president is totally on an island, totally unprotected from [Special Counsel Robert] Mueller, totally unprotected from a lot of things.’
There seems to be a spiraling effect with these recent Defense Department resignations, and 2019 is bound to bring more trouble for Trump considering a Democratic-controlled House and a mounting Mueller investigation.
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