April 1, 2023

Trump just trashed his departing Defense Secretary and shoved him out the door early

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In yet another display of the vindictive essence of his simian instincts, President Trump announced today that he was forcing his Defense Secretary James Mattis out two months earlier than his official resignation date which was originally scheduled for the end of February.

The president’s indignation over the criticisms leveled at him in the scathing letter Mattis sent to Trump to proclaim his intended departure from his cabinet post was so devastating to the president’s fragile ego that he decided to forgo the transition period that Mattis had offered to ensure an orderly transition.

Trump initially hinted at his ire towards his Defense Secretary’s withering assessment of his foreign policy and national security strategy skills (or lack thereof, to be more precise) in a tweet he sent yesterday offering his own twisted view of the situation.

Trump’s tweet was a response to Mattis’ comment in his letter to the president which clearly indicated that the former 4-star general could no longer stomach Trump’s disdain for our nation’s long-standing allies while he cozies up to authoritarian dictators who manipulate the president with ease.

“My views on treating allies with respect and also being cleareyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held,” Mattis wrote.

Naturally, Trump’s own predatory mindset paranoically interprets the world through a filter that sees our allies acting as he himself would behave instinctively — selfishly exploiting any opportunity to lie, cheat, and steal at others’ expense.

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Trump announced the accelerated exit of the Defense Secretary this morning in an oblique manner, not even mentioning Mattis by name in a tweet appointing his deputy, Patrick Shanahan, as acting secretary commencing January 1st.

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With a mangled syntax that indicates that Trump likely composed the tweet himself — Shanahan serving previously as Boeing would be an interesting sight to see — the president seemed determined to ignore the fact that he had just days earlier praised Mattis for his service after initially receiving his resignation letter.

According to an article in The New York Times, a White House aide told the newspaper that Trump at first “did not understand just how forceful a rejection of his strategy Mr. Mattis had issued.” It was only after the media reported the implications of Mattis’ language that the notoriously reading-averse president felt the embers of shame and anger flow through his self-proclaimed preternaturally prescient gut.

 The Washington Post reported that Trump’s alpha-dog response of “you can’t quit because you’re fired” took the Pentagon by surprise.

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“The announcement appeared to catch Pentagon officials off guard. Shanahan was traveling away from Washington when Trump tweeted his decision, and a spokesman for Shanahan declined to comment.”

“Another defense official, who is close to Mattis and spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, said, ‘I think it’s fair to say that there is a lot of uncertainty about this week. I think all of this is coming down in the last hour,'” The Post wrote.

Shanahan will bring his decades of experience at Boeing to the role of acting Secretary of Defense. As the deputy of the department, he has focused on efficiency and supervised the audit of the Pentagon that revealed billions of dollars of unaccounted-for assets.

His lack of foreign policy credentials lead some to question his suitability for the permanent appointment to the role, a question that will surely be widely discussed if Trump anoints him to that position and he faces Senate confirmation hearings.

For a president who doesn’t want his relationships and capitulations to the wishes of the leaders of countries traditionally considered our military rivals questioned by anyone, Shanahan’s lack of strong convictions on the foreign policy front may be the primary source of his appeal to Trump.

Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.

Original reporting by Helene Cooper at The New York Times and by Philip Rucker Dan Lamothe at The Washington Post.

Vinnie Longobardo

is the Managing Editor of Washington Press and a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile, & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.

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