In a new interview with the New York Times, President Donald Trump said because he was unhappy with the job performance of Secretary of Defense James Mattis, he asked for his letter of resignation.
“Do you ever — and I want to go back to your point about military intervention in a second — but do you have any thoughts about defense secretary and where that’s getting in terms of,” NYT’s Maggie Haberman began to ask.
“So I wasn’t happy with Mattis. I told Mattis to give me a letter,” Trump replied. “He didn’t just give me that letter. I told him. And you could have seen that on ‘60 Minutes.’ I did “60 Minutes” and Lesley Stahl asked me a question: ‘What do you think of General Mattis?’”
“You called him a Democrat, didn’t you,” Haberman prodded.
“And I said let me be generous. But I just — I didn’t like the job he was doing. I wasn’t happy with it. I wasn’t happy with the — I got him more money than the military has ever seen before,” Trump said. “And I wasn’t happy with the job that he was doing at all. And I said it’s time. That’s why in the letter he wrote, ‘You have to have your own choice.’ The reason he said that was because I said, “You’re just not my choice.”
Trump’s latest comments differ from how he originally announced when Mattis was “retiring, with distinction”:
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. During Jim’s tenure, tremendous progress has been made, especially with respect to the purchase of new fighting....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 20, 2018
....equipment. General Mattis was a great help to me in getting allies and other countries to pay their share of military obligations. A new Secretary of Defense will be named shortly. I greatly thank Jim for his service!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 20, 2018
A few days later, Trump sent another tweet saying he gave Mattis a second chance.
“When President Obama ingloriously fired Jim Mattis, I gave him a second chance,” he wrote. “Some thought I shouldn’t, I thought I should. Interesting relationship-but I also gave all of the resources that he never really had. Allies are very important-but not when they take advantage of U.S.”