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In Rare Statement, Mitch McConnell Says He's 'Distressed' Over Jim Mattis' Resignation

21 December 2018

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, a stabilizing force in President Donald Trump's cabinet, abruptly announced his resignation on Thursday and said Trump should pick a successor whose views align more with his own.

In his resignation letter, Mattis said he is stepping down so Trump can have a defence secretary who has views more in line with his own.

Contrary to the president's tweets however, Mattis submitted a resignation letter outlining several policy areas where he and Trump disagree.

Mattis is a decorated general from the US Marine Corps who has been praised by his colleagues in the Pentagon for the way he operated in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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'This is scary, ' reacted Senate Intelligence committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia.

Soon after, Trump announced he was replacing McMaster with John Bolton, a former United Nations ambassador and Fox News commentator. Revealing his choice for Pentagon chief, Trump hailed the retired general as "Mad Dog", a nickname Mattis earned for his conduct in battle.

According to the Times, Mattis went to the White House Thursday in an attempt to convince Trump not to remove the 2,000 Americans now in Syria.

Another noteworthy fact: Mattis resigned, never using the word "retire" in his letter.

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About 2,000 USA troops are now in the northeastern part of the country, near the Turkish border. The deliberations on US troops come as Ankara threatens a new offensive in Syria.

Mattis' departure adds to new uncertainty about which course the administration might take on its global challenges, including with Iran and North Korea, amid questions about the pending withdrawal of US troops from Syria and a possible drawdown in Afghanistan.

His exit in February will be felt particularly starkly by Britain because Mattis has been the UK's key conduit when dealing with the Trump administration. Mattis recognizes the president has a distinct foreign policy vision, and the president recognizes that Mattis has served this administration and his country nobly.

During his confirmation hearing, which took place before the Trump administration recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital and chose to move the United States embassy there, Mattis said the capital of Israel is Tel Aviv. Mattis and others ultimately persuaded Trump to pour additional resources and troops into the conflict to press toward a resolution.

Mattis, a retired four-star general, stepped down from his post Thursday over major differences with President Donald Trump on how to treat allies and the need for a more "resolute" approach to Russian Federation and China, among other issues.

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McConnell's statement is a rare public expression of disagreement with Trump. The most impressive military mind I've had the honour to know. Two leading candidates long thought to be in contention-Sens.

In Rare Statement, Mitch McConnell Says He's 'Distressed' Over Jim Mattis' Resignation