Mattis' Resignation Will 'Leave a Mark' on Trump — CNN's Mike Rogers

Mattis' Resignation Will 'Leave a Mark' on Trump — CNN's Mike Rogers

Mattis' Resignation Will 'Leave a Mark' on Trump — CNN's Mike Rogers

Just after announcing his Syria decision, Trump again confounded worldwide partners with plans to slash troop numbers in Afghanistan.

It is unusual for the Pentagon to have an acting secretary of defense. As recently as September, he dismissed talk of his departure as "rumor" and said he had no plans to retire. But Trump chose to hasten the process, announcing Sunday on Twitter that Shanahan would replace Mattis imminently. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

Minutes later, further questions were raised as the president went on to appear to link the Syria withdrawal to expanding trade deals with Turkey - just as Turkish troops began to mobilise on the Syrian border. The president wrote in a Saturday night tweet, "Brett McGurk, who I do not know, was appointed by President Obama in 2015". Historically when a secretary has resigned, he has stayed on until a successor is confirmed.

Outgoing Defense Secretary James Mattis's decision to leave the administration over President Trump's plan to pull USA troops out of Syria is being considered the "definition of patriotism and integrity", at least by his family, according to The Seattle Times.

Trump added that acting secretary Patrick Shanahan may remain in the post for the foreseeable future, Army Times reported.

Asked whether Trump wanted a Pentagon leader willing to challenge him or someone in lock step with his views, Mulvaney said "a little bit of both".

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., joined leading Republicans on foreign affairs in urging Trump to reconsider his decision to withdraw American forces from Syria.

Retiring Secretary of Defense James Mattis may be on his way out the door, but that didn't stop him from keeping up a familiar Christmas tradition: working through the holidays in the hopes that it would allow his troops the freedom to celebrate with their families.

He said they "could never get on the same page" on Syria.

It was not immediately clear whether Trump was referring to new funding from Saudi Arabia, which has already pledged money to cover costs for the next two years of stabilising areas of Syria retaken from the Islamic State militant group.

On Dec. 14, as he's done about a dozen times since taking office, Trump phoned Turkey's strongman president, Recep Erdogan.

Mr Trump has come under withering criticism from fellow Republicans and worldwide allies in recent days over his moves to wind down U.S. involvement in Syria and Afghanistan, against the advice of his top aides and USA commanders. The proud son has been quoted as saying, "growing up, my understanding of the war came from my dad, his friends and the few stories they would share".

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