U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis resigned Thursday over his disagreement with President Donald Trump on foreign policy matters, drawing concern from domestic politicians and world leaders alike.
What are the details?
Mattis submitted his letter of resignation not only to his boss, the commander in chief, but reportedly ordered 50 copies to be distributed throughout the Pentagon after Trump refused to bend in his decision to remove American troops from Syria.
Senators on the right and left quickly raised alarms over the departure of the respected Marines Corps general from Trump's Cabinet.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) voiced his fears on Twitter after reading Mattis' letter, saying the Defense Secretary's message "makes it abundantly clear that we are headed towards a series of grave policy errors which will endanger our nation, damage our alliances & empower our adversaries."
Just read Gen. Mattis resignation letter. It makes it abundantly clear that we are headed towards a series of grave policy errors which will endanger our nation,damage our alliances & empower our adversaries. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/ztc0Yihccn
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) December 20, 2018
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) called Mattis' resignation "scary," praising the secretary as "an island of stability amidst the chaos of the Trump administration" while accusing the president of having a "haphazard" approach to Syria.
The President has had the last two years of his Presidency, with full GOP control of the government, to make a deal on border security. Instead, he waited until the last possible minute before threatening a shutdown if he doesn't get his way. This is not leadership.
— Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) December 21, 2018
How are allies responding?
News of the Mattis' departure also rattled some allied leaders abroad. As the former supreme commander of NATO's Allied Command Transformation, Mattis is seen as an expert on international affairs who was valuable to the Trump administration.
Chairman of the European Council on Foreign Relations and former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt said the resignation of Mattis was "a morning of alarm in Europe," calling the secretary of defense "the remaining strong bond across the Atlantic in the Trump administration." He went on to slam other administration officials as weak.
A morning of alarm in Europe. SecDef Mattis is the remaining strong bond across the Atlantic in the Trump administration. All the others are fragile at best or broken at worst.
— Carl Bildt (@carlbildt) December 21, 2018
Guy Verhofstadt, former Belgian prime minister and current head of the liberals in European Parliament, used the news to rally support for building a standing European army while stoking fear that Mattis leaving was good news for Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Mattis checked President Trump's worst instincts & was a strong supporter of NATO & multilateralism. His departure is bad news & makes it look like Putin's plan is being delivered on. Europe stands unprepared & needs to speed up the establishment of a European Defense Community. https://t.co/dHFnhA5tXK
— Guy Verhofstadt (@guyverhofstadt) December 21, 2018