Donald Trump boasts he 'essentially' fired James Mattis

Donald Trump boasts he 'essentially' fired James Mattis

Donald Trump boasts he 'essentially' fired James Mattis

"But, as you know, President (Barack) Obama fired him and essentially so did I", Trump said.

In a meeting with members of his Cabinet, Trump boasted that he had "essentially" fired Mattis by moving up the four-star general's departure date by two months.

Mattis his resignation days after Trump said he was planning to pull USA troops completely out of war-torn Syria, at first declaring Islamic State had been defeated and then asserting that the militant group should be handled by other countries in the region. Mattis implicitly criticized Trump in his resignation letter for failing to value allies who fight alongside the United States, including in places like Syria.

The drama came after Shanahan sought to lay out his priorities for America's massive defense department and how he intends to deal with an urgent list of geopolitical to-dos, including the USA withdrawal from Syria.

At a morning meeting at the Pentagon with the military service secretaries and other top civilian officials, Shanahan said he was focused on the defense strategy developed during Mattis' tenure.

"He is one of the absolutely very best we have had as the chief financial officer and under comptroller, and the budget will be paramount in the next six weeks", Punaro said, adding that Norquist is "highly respected on the Hill and in the building".

Trump has suggested Shanahan could be acting as defense secretary for an extended period of time. His views on aggression toward China and pulling American troops from the Middle East align with President Donald Trump's.

A defense official who attended the meeting said Shanahan had told colleagues a major concern would be China.

Shanahan, 56, did not serve in the military and before but serving as deputy defense secretary he spent more than 30 years at Boeing.

On Wednesday, Trump downplayed Mattis' importance to his national security team and his administration more broadly. Mattis said he would stay until the end of February, but on December 23 Trump announced that Shanahan would take over January 1, speeding up Mattis' departure.

Seth Jones at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think-tank in Washington said Shanahan started the job from a somewhat weaker position, since he did not have the mandate that comes with being a Senate-confirmed defense secretary.

David Norquist, the Pentagon's comptroller, will perform the duties of the deputy as well as retain his current title.

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