Trump says he forced Mattis to resign

President Trump says he forced former Defense Secretary James Mattis to resign as he “wasn’t happy with the job that he was doing at all,” according to an interview the president gave to The New York Times.

“So I wasn’t happy with Mattis. I told Mattis to give me a letter,” Trump told the Times. “He didn’t just give me that letter. I told him.”

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He continued, “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. And I wasn’t happy with the job that he was doing at all. And I said it’s time.”

Mattis in December announced his departure from the Pentagon following Trump’s surprise announcement that the administration would withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, where coalition forces continue to fight elements of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) on the ground.

In his resignation letter, Mattis stated that Trump deserved a general “whose views are better aligned with yours,” and signaled his concern with the way Trump treated allies in NATO as well as rivals such as China and Russia. 

The president first issued a cordial statement on the departure, writing on Twitter that Mattis “will be retiring, with distinction, at the end of February,” and praising the former Marine Corps general for his “tremendous progress” at the Defense Department.

“General Mattis was a great help to me in getting allies and other countries to pay their share of military obligations,” Trump tweeted.

But following the media attention over the critical resignation letter, a fuming Trump pushed Mattis out two months earlier than initially planned.

Trump later in January said Mattis’s performance at the Pentagon was “not too good.”

“In the letter he wrote, ‘You have to have your own choice,’ ” Trump told the Times. “The reason he said that was because I said, ‘You’re just not my choice.’ ”

Trump replaced Mattis with his deputy Defense secretary, Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanKim to meet with Putin as tensions with US rise GOP Armed Services chair 'no longer concerned' about training for border troops The Mueller report is a deterrent to government service MORE, who took over in an acting role on Jan. 1.

The president said Shanahan is “doing a great job” but that “a tremendous number of people would like that position.”