Former Defense Secretary James Mattis says President Donald Trump’s announcement to pull U.S. troops out of Syria “absolutely” triggered his resignation — a move that so angered the president that he fired him rather than keep him during a transition period.
In his first television interview on CBS's "Sunday Morning" about his December 2018 resignation, Mattis said “I disagree” with the Syria troops' withdrawal, explaining “we need to maintain enough influence there that we don’t see the same thing that happened when we withdrew from Iraq.”
“There comes a time when you have to look at it, are you aligned with the person your working with?” he said.
In his resignation letter, Mattis wrote: “my views on treating allies with respect are strongly held.”
“This was how I saw the strength of America, that we keep our alliances together and keep them tight,” Mattis explained in the interview. “And if I wasn’t the right person to do this, then the president needed someone more aligned with his views.”
“I was honest and forthright with him about where it was that I was parting ways,” he added.
Trump twisted the knife after he quit, saying “President Obama ingloriously fired Jim Mattis, I gave him a second chance.”
Mattis said he hasn’t talked to Trump since, and isn't going to start talking about him now.
“I will not speak ill of a sitting president,” he declared. “I am not going to do it.”
“He’s an unusual president our president is,” Mattis said. “And I think that especially with the, just the rabid nature of politics today, we’ve gotta be careful. We could tear this country apart.”
In a clip of Mattis handshaking patrons of a local bar in his home state of Washington, one man assures Mattis if he he ever wants to run for president, he’d do what he could.
Mattis just laughed.
“It would be like a five-year jail sentence,” he said.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.