In a Cabinet meeting Wednesday, Trump dissed former Defense Secretary James Mattis, a man once held in high regard by the president.
“What’s he done for me?” Trump asked during the meeting, according to Bloomberg. “How has he done in Afghanistan? Not too good.”
Trump reportedly said that he “essentially” fired Mattis, but in reality, Mattis resigned last week, citing differing opinions with the president on Syria.
The president ultimately took the news well and thanked Mattis for his service, but it appeared Trump did so before reading the former general’s resignation letter that criticized Trump’s foreign policy positions.
….equipment. General Mattis was a great help to me in getting allies and other countries to pay their share of military obligations. A new Secretary of Defense will be named shortly. I greatly thank Jim for his service!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 20, 2018
Mattis was supposed to stay on the Cabinet until Trump found a replacement, but after reading the letter, Trump dismissed Mattis early.
As a former general, many lawmakers on both sides saw Mattis as fit in his position as secretary of defense. His temporary replacement, Patrick Shanahan, did not serve in the military.
Neither did Trump, who recused himself from the draft during the Vietnam War multiple times, first for an education deferment and later for bone spurs in his feet. Last week, the New York Times reported the bone spurs diagnosis could’ve been a favor from a doctor who had business ties with Trump’s father.
Nevertheless, Trump insulted Mattis and thought he would be good for the job.
“I think I would’ve been a good general,” Trump said at the meeting. “But who knows.”
Trump first publicly criticized Mattis via Twitter on Christmas Eve, claiming Mattis couldn’t see the problems he does.
….We are substantially subsidizing the Militaries of many VERY rich countries all over the world, while at the same time these countries take total advantage of the U.S., and our TAXPAYERS, on Trade. General Mattis did not see this as a problem. I DO, and it is being fixed!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 24, 2018
Two days before that, Trump pointed out that former President Barack Obama fired Mattis after serving as head of Central Command.
When President Obama ingloriously fired Jim Mattis, I gave him a second chance. 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.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2018
Before his resignation, Trump was nothing but encouraging of his defense secretary.
General James "Mad Dog" Mattis, who is being considered for Secretary of Defense, was very impressive yesterday. A true General's General!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 20, 2016
Thank you General Mattis, book is boring & untrue! https://t.co/Bq79ZjF3Dk
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2018
Once affectionately called “Mad Dog” by the president (a nickname Mattis reportedly despised), Trump’s former defense secretary has joined the increasing amount of former administration officials that Trump dismisses.