The Tribune (SLO) - - Front Page - BY LOLITA C. BAL­DOR

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Sun­day pushed the de­fense sec­re­tary out the door two months ear­lier than planned.

Ir­ri­tated with the crit­i­cism and fall­out from De­fense Sec­re­tary Jim Mat­tis’ res­ig­na­tion, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Sun­day pushed the Pen­tagon chief out the door two months ear­lier than planned, an ac­ri­mo­nious end to a tense re­la­tion­ship that had been erod­ing in re­cent months.

In a se­ries of tweets, Trump ap­peared to ques­tion why he had put Mat­tis in his Cabi­net in the first place and said Deputy De­fense Sec­re­tary Pa­trick Shana­han will take over as act­ing sec­re­tary on Jan. 1 to cover the ac­cel­er­ated de­par­ture.

Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo, not the pres­i­dent, no­ti­fied Mat­tis of the de­ci­sion, said a se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial who in­sisted on anonymity to dis­cuss per­son­nel is­sues.

The sud­den change strips Mat­tis of any chance to fur­ther frame na­tional se­cu­rity pol­icy or smooth rat­tled re­la­tions with al­lies through the orig­i­nally planned tran­si­tion at the end of Fe­bru­ary. And it re­flects White House dis­plea­sure with the re­tired Ma­rine Corps gen­eral’s blis­ter­ing res­ig­na­tion letter, which he de­liv­ered to Trump on Thurs­day.

Mat­tis re­signed in protest over Trump’s de­ci­sion to pull all U.S. troops out of Syria. U.S. of­fi­cials, how­ever, said that the re­ac­tion to his de­ci­sion to leave – in­clud­ing the shock and dis­may ex­pressed on Capi­tol Hill – an­noyed Trump and likely led to Mat­tis leav­ing ear­lier than planned.

“When Pres­i­dent Obama in­glo­ri­ously fired Jim Mat­tis, I gave him a se­cond chance. Some thought I shouldn’t, I thought I should,” Trump tweeted Satur­day. He also fumed over the me­dia cov­er­age of his Syria with­drawal or­der, sug­gest­ing he should be pop­u­lar for bring­ing troops home.

“With me, hit hard in­stead by the Fake News Me­dia. Crazy!” Trump tweeted.

A White House of­fi­cial said Trump de­cided Mat­tis should leave the ad­min­is­tra­tion ear­lier than planned to avoid a drawnout tran­si­tion when some­one is on hand whom they con­sider a qual­i­fied deputy ca­pa­ble of run­ning the Pen­tagon in an act­ing ca­pac­ity. The of­fi­cial asked not to be iden­ti­fied pub­licly dis­cussing per­son­nel mat­ters.

Lt. Col. Joseph Buc­cino, a spokesman for Shana­han, said the for­mer Boe­ing Co. ex­ec­u­tive will ac­cept the ap­point­ment as act­ing sec­re­tary.

It is un­usual for the Pen­tagon to have an act­ing sec­re­tary of de­fense. His­tor­i­cally when a sec­re­tary has re­signed, he has stayed on un­til a suc­ces­sor is con­firmed.

While Mat­tis’ res­ig­na­tion fol­lowed Trump’s an­nounce­ment that he would soon pull all of the ap­prox­i­mately 2,000 U.S. troops out of Syria, of­fi­cials said that the de­ci­sion was the re­sult of an ac­cu­mu­la­tion of dis­agree­ments.

In his res­ig­na­tion letter, Mat­tis made clear he did not see eye to eye with a pres­i­dent who has ex­pressed dis­dain for NATO and doubts about keep­ing troops in Asia. Mat­tis was also un­happy with Trump’s or­der to de­velop plans to pull out up to half of the 14,000 U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

Ear­lier Sun­day, Trump’s act­ing chief of staff said that Trump had known for “quite some time now” that he and Mat­tis “did not share some of the same philoso­phies … have the same world view.”

Mick Mul­vaney told ABC’s “This Week” that the pres­i­dent and his de­fense chief “just could never get on the same page” on Syria, adding that Trump had said since his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign that “he wanted to get out of Syria.”

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

“I’ve en­cour­aged him to find peo­ple who have some over­lap with him but don’t see the world in lock­step with him,” Mul­vaney said.

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.

“We be­lieve that such ac­tion at this time is a pre­ma­ture and costly mis­take that not only threat­ens the safety and se­cu­rity of the United States but also em­bold­ens” the Is­lamic State group, Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad’s govern­ment, Iran and Rus­sia, ac­cord­ing to the letter, signed by McCon­nell and eight other se­na­tors, in­clud­ing Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham, R-S.C., who or­ga­nized it.

They asked Trump to “not make any fi­nal de­ci­sion for 90 days to al­low time to ad­e­quately study the im­pacts of this de­ci­sion on our part­ners, our al­lies and the re-emer­gence of ISIS and other ter­ror groups, to en­sure our na­tion’s strate­gic in­ter­ests are se­cured.”

Jim Mat­tis

Pa­trick Shana­han

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