James Mattis

Trump No Longer Listens to His Defense Secretary

NBC News: “The way these recent presidential decisions on major national security issues have played out, as detailed by current and former White House and defense officials, underscores a significant change in Mattis’s role in recent months. The president is relying less and less on the advice of one of the longest-serving members of his cabinet, the officials said.”

Said a former senior White House official: “They don’t really see eye to eye.”

“The president has cooled on Mattis, in part because he’s come to believe his defense secretary looks down on him and slow-walks his policy directives… The president is now more inclined to rely on his own instincts or the advice of Pompeo and Bolton.”

Mattis Is Latest to Buck Trump

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis openly differed with his commander in chief over North Korea, the latest example of a once-rare public display of disagreement by top U.S. aides that has become more frequent under President Trump, Reuters reports.

“We are never out of diplomatic solutions,” Mattis told reporters, just hours after Trump said in a tweet that ‘talking is not the answer’ to the standoff over North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs.

Mattis Says Obama Should Have Listened More to Clinton

Defense Secretary James Mattis told the MIHS Islander that President Obama should have listened more to Hillary Clinton’s advice.

Said Mattis: “I was a NATO officer and then a central command officer under President Obama and he was trying to reach out to the Arab people. He unfortunately didn’t always have the best advisors or he didn’t listen to his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, so we missed some opportunities there.”

Mattis Privately Tells Lawmakers Budget Not Enough

“Defense Secretary James Mattis has privately told Congress the Trump administration’s Pentagon budget request isn’t sufficient to cover the cost of rebuilding the military as President Trump has vowed to do,” CNN reports.

“Mattis is not publicly raising concerns about the $603 billion Pentagon budget plan, aligning himself with the White House’s decision, though it’s a stance that’s sparking frustration from some Republican defense hawks in Congress.”

Can Mattis Push Trump Towards the Conventional?

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis “appears to be at odds with President Donald Trump on Russia and other key issues, setting up potential discord but also helping to nudge the White House toward more conventional policy stances,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“In recent days, other top administration officials have aired foreign-policy views that don’t align perfectly with the new president… But it is Mr. Mattis who has differed with the president on the most issues. And while that could set up a clash with a White House that has said those who don’t agree with the president should leave, the defense chief seems to have had the most success in prodding Mr. Trump away from some of his positions.”

Mattis Works to Soothe Allies

“As President Trump’s new Pentagon chief, Jim Mattis has a long list of tasks ahead, including devising a more aggressive campaign to combat the Islamic State and restoring military readiness after years of budget cuts. But a few weeks into his tenure, the retired general’s most visible role has been of a different sort: soothing Americans and allies unnerved by the president and some of his top advisers,” the Washington Post reports.

“Mattis, wrapping up a visit to Japan and South Korean last week, carried a message of constancy and restraint on many of the foreign policy issues whose fate has generated anxiety since Trump’s election.”

Trump Will Call for Hitting ISIS Harder

“The White House is drafting a presidential directive that calls on Defense Secretary James Mattis to devise plans to more aggressively strike the Islamic State,” the New York Times reports.

“President Trump, who is to make his first visit to the Pentagon as commander in chief on Friday, will demand that the new options be presented to him within 30 days… During the presidential campaign, Mr. Trump repeatedly said that he had a secret plan to defeat the Islamic State, but he also said that he would give his commanders a month to come up with new options.”

Rivalry Brewing on Trump Team

“Donald Trump’s nomination of James Mattis as Defense secretary is sparking questions about how well the retired Marine general will get along with Mike Flynn, the three-star general set to be national security adviser,” The Hill reports.

“Trump has a history of setting up rivalries among his advisers, and it appears he’s likely to have a big one on his national security team.”

“Flynn reportedly sought to block Mattis’s nomination because he did not want a general with higher ranking than him in the Cabinet. And according to the Washington Post, a power struggle has already begun between the Trump transition team and Mattis over who should serve in top slots at the Pentagon.”

Trump Wants Mattis for Defense Secretary

President-elect Donald Trump has chosen retired Marine Gen. James Mattis to be secretary of defense, the Washington Post reports, “nominating a former senior military officer who led operations across the Middle East to run the Pentagon less than four years after he hung up his uniform.”

“To take the job, Mattis will need Congress to pass new legislation to bypass a federal law stating that defense secretaries must not have been on active duty in the previous seven years. Congress has granted a similar exception just once, when Gen. George C. Marshall was appointed to the job in 1950.”

New Law Needed for Trump’s Defense Pick

“Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis has emerged as President-elect Donald Trump’s leading candidate to be defense secretary, people familiar with the transition said Tuesday, but the choice would require Congress to pass a special law clearing the way for a recently retired military officer to take the Pentagon’s top civilian post,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The law would be required because the former top officer has been out of the military only 3½ years. U.S. laws designed to ensure civilian control over the military require a time period of seven years.”