Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sent a letter to President Trump on Thursday announcing his resignation, effective the end of February. The news comes one day after Trump’s abrupt decision to pull U.S. troops from Syria—claiming to have defeated ISIS in the country—a move that went against what his senior advisors, including Mattis.
President Donald Trump called Mattis’ departure a retirement in a tweet and praised Mattis for his service. Senior advisor Stephen Miller later told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on air that Mattis had retired.
Mattis’ letter does not include the word ‘retirement.’ The resignation letter to the president, dated Dec. 20, the 68-year-old Mattis outlined his reasons for leaving. Though he doesn’t mention the decision in Syria by name, he says that Trump deserves a Secretary of Defense “whose views are better aligned” with his.
“One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships,” Mattis wrote in the letter. “While the U.S. remains the indispensable nation int he free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies.”
Mattis joins a long list of advisors who have left their post during Trump’s tenure, and rumors that he would leave have been swirling for months.
Prior to Trump’s Wednesday announcement on Syria, the president and his advisors reportedly engaged in an intense discussion on the topic, in which they believed to have convinced Trump not to withdraw. He later defended his decision to pull all 2,000 troops on Twitter, pointing out that it was one of his campaign platforms.