Trump’s week of tumult shakes many in GOP

One of the most tumultuous weeks in President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump cites tax cuts over judges as having biggest impact of his presidency Trump cites tax cuts over judges as having biggest impact of his presidency Ocasio-Cortez claps back at Trump after he cites her in tweet rejecting impeachment MORE’s turbulent two years in office has turned up the spotlight on divisions between the White House and Republicans — particularly on foreign policy.

Trump in the last week has announced the removal of all U.S. troops from Syria and a reduction in the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, two decisions that represented a reversal from more than a decade of GOP strategy in the war against terrorism. The top U.S. envoy in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) resigned.

The decisions on Syria and Afghanistan contributed to Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisTop nuclear official quietly left Pentagon in April Top nuclear official quietly left Pentagon in April Overnight Defense: Pompeo blames Iran for oil tanker attacks | House panel approves 3B defense bill | Trump shares designs for red, white and blue Air Force One MORE’s resignation — a move that rattled lawmakers in both parties who had long seen the respected general as a calming or even stabilizing influence on an administration viewed at times as erratic.

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On Sunday, Trump, seemingly stung by that narrative, announced Mattis would be out on Jan. 1 — two months earlier than previously planned.

He also took a swipe at the Pentagon chief, casting his decision to make him secretary of Defense as a “second chance.”

“When President Obama ingloriously fired Jim Mattis, I gave him a second chance,” Trump wrote in a tweet on Saturday night. “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.”

Mattis had made it clear that the president did not “align” with his own “strongly held” views on the value of alliances such as NATO and the anti-ISIS coalition and standing firm against adversaries such as Russia and China.

Senate Republicans saw the president effectively force a shutdown of parts of the government over his demands for $5 billion in funding for his wall on the Mexican border, after the Senate has passed a bill without extra border funding by voice vote to keep it open.

And all of this took place as the stock market crumbled, falling in part on worries about Trump’s trade policies. Reports circulated over the weekend that the president was mulling the firing of Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who he has blamed for interest rate hikes.

GOP lawmakers, just more than a month after a midterm election that saw them lose the House majority, are sending public warning signs that they think the administration is headed in the wrong direction.

Rep. Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump, Biden go toe-to-toe in Iowa The Hill's Morning Report - Trump, Biden go toe-to-toe in Iowa Ex-GOP lawmakers are face of marijuana blitz MORE (R-Fla.), one of the House GOP lawmakers defeated in November, said that the “instability [and] chaos in our government the past few days has been particularly pronounced” in a Saturday tweet, adding that “things are not well in the USA.”

“Anybody who’s not concerned, is not watching,” said retiring Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeDemocrats needle GOP on standing up to Trump Democrats needle GOP on standing up to Trump Amash gets standing ovation at first town hall after calling for Trump's impeachment MORE (R-Ariz.), a frequent critic of Trump’s. “We’re all concerned.”

Criticism also came from voices who generally avoid public conflict with Trump.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP nervous that border wall fight could prompt year-end shutdown GOP nervous that border wall fight could prompt year-end shutdown Jon Stewart slams McConnell over 9/11 victim fund MORE (R-Ky.), who is known for choosing his words carefully, sent out one of his most critical statements to date, saying he was “distressed” to read Mattis’s reasons for resigning. He added that Trump should pick a successor who shares Mattis’s “understanding” of the “vital principles” that he outlined in his resignation letter.

Many Republicans were already stung by what they saw as the administration’s weak response to the killing of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. The Senate's vote to name Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as "responsible" for the slaying, a move at odds with the president, came only a week before they learned of Trump's decisions on Afghanistan and Syria.

It has underlined the discomfort many Republicans have with Trump’s isolationist tendencies, a friction also evident in GOP disfavor with some of his trade actions.

Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyOvernight Defense: Pick for South Korean envoy splits with Trump on nuclear threat | McCain blasts move to suspend Korean military exercises | White House defends Trump salute of North Korean general WH backpedals on Trump's 'due process' remark on guns Top GOP candidate drops out of Ohio Senate race MORE (R-Pa.) said he didn’t believe Trump’s views on foreign policy aligned in many ways with his or most Republicans'.

“I think General Mattis has put his finger on where the president has views that are very, very distinct from the vast majority of Republicans and probably Democrats, elected and unelected,” Toomey told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottOn The Money: Trump weighs emergency declaration for Mexico tariffs | GOP senators look to rein in Trump on trade | Powell says Fed may cut rates if trade war hurts economy On The Money: Trump weighs emergency declaration for Mexico tariffs | GOP senators look to rein in Trump on trade | Powell says Fed may cut rates if trade war hurts economy Trump floats new emergency declaration to impose Mexico tariffs MORE (R-S.C.), asked about Mattis, quipped that he was “still depressed” and “too emotional” to talk about the impending departure. Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonHillicon Valley: Lawmakers angered over Border Patrol breach | Senate Dems press FBI over Russian hacking response | Emails reportedly show Zuckerberg knew of Facebook's privacy issues | FCC looks to improve broadband mapping Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers angered over Border Patrol breach | Senate Dems press FBI over Russian hacking response | Emails reportedly show Zuckerberg knew of Facebook's privacy issues | FCC looks to improve broadband mapping Lawmakers demand answers on Border Patrol data breach MORE (R-Wis.) said he wanted Trump to pick a “Mattis clone.”

“I think we all would,” he added.

Trump, for his part, has fired back at the criticism, arguing that ISIS “was going wild” when he took office but is now “largely defeated.”

Some of Trump’s closest allies in Congress have offered him cover, echoing the president's rhetoric accusing Democrats of shutting part of the GOP-controlled government.

McConnell, who sought to avoid a shutdown over the wall, has defended the president’s push to win more funding for border security since Trump essentially jettisoned the Senate’s stopgap funding measure sent to the House.

But worries about the White House are also becoming more prominently discussed.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerPress: How 'Nervous Nancy' trumped Trump Press: How 'Nervous Nancy' trumped Trump Amash gets standing ovation at first town hall after calling for Trump's impeachment MORE (R-Tenn.) told CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday that he had started seeing a change months ago within the administration, with the president increasingly ignoring advisers and believing he has “this under control.”

“I think we’re just in a whole different period now,” he added.

Vice President Pence, meanwhile, got an “earful” during a recent closed-door lunch about Trump’s decision to pull out of northern Syria, which senators say was made without coordination from other agencies and with no heads up to Congress.

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioElection security bills face GOP buzzsaw Election security bills face GOP buzzsaw The Hill's Morning Report — Uproar after Trump's defense of foreign dirt on candidates MORE (R-Fla.) said lawmakers will do oversight of the Syria decision and press the administration on their strategy for ISIS if, once the United States pulls out, the group “reconstitutes into some form of [a] larger and powerful insurgency and begins targeting Americans both in the region and abroad.”

“I would imagine that’s going to be the subject of multiple hearings over the next few months,” Rubio said.

Rubio added that he believed Mattis’s letter sends “troubling” signals about where the administration’s strategy is heading. The letter, according to Rubio, suggests “pretty strongly that he believes there are more decisions to come that head in the direction of the Syria decision.”

The move in Syria also sparked a public back-and-forth between Trump and Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump wishes 'Happy Father's Day to all,' including 'worst and most vicious critics' Trump wishes 'Happy Father's Day to all,' including 'worst and most vicious critics' Election security bills face GOP buzzsaw MORE (R-S.C.), who has been incensed about the decision and is publicly and privately urging Trump to reverse course.

Graham brought up the issue during an unrelated government funding lunch with Trump at the White House on Saturday, said Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyGOP nervous that border wall fight could prompt year-end shutdown GOP nervous that border wall fight could prompt year-end shutdown On The Money: Pelosi says no debt ceiling hike until deal on spending caps | McConnell pressures White House to strike budget deal | Warren bill would wipe out billions in student debt | Senate passes IRS reform bill MORE (R-Ala.), adding: “You know Lindsey. He brought it up.”

Johnson, describing himself as “highly concerned,” said “the vast majority of senators both Democratic and Republican are totally opposed to this policy. We’re trying to get the administration to rethink it.”

Asked if he thought Trump understood foreign policy, he smiled briefly before adding: “I kind of scratch my head.”