It took three days before President Donald Trump finally went after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. That must be a new record.
On the weekend after Mattis dropped a bombshell of a resignation letter, in which he wrote the president has “the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours” just before he outlined his view that allies should be treated with respect and enemies should not, Trump of course took to Twitter to say he had given Mattis “a second chance.”
“When President Obama ingloriously fired Jim Mattis, I gave him a second chance,” Trump tweeted on Sunday. “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.”
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
Given Trump's past criticism of just about anyone and everyone, this one is fairly mild, but I expect there will be more to come. Still, the subtle dig that Mattis “got a second chance” is worth exploring, since it's patently absurd.
Although Mattis was forced to retire from his post commanding U.S. Central Command in 2013 after a falling out with the Obama administration, he didn't need or want a second chance when President Trump came along in 2016.
Mattis was doing just fine in the post-military world, serving on a number of boards, consulting and doing speaking gigs, and teaching classes at Stanford University.
Not counting Mattis' annual retirement pension of more than $230,000 after 41 years of service, his financial disclosure form showed him earning $419,359 a year from his role at Stanford's Hoover Institution, $242,000 as a board member of defense contractor General Dynamics, and $150,000 as a board member of Theranos, for a grand total of $811,359.
All of these sources of income — and a bunch of stock in General Dynamics — went away after he was confirmed as Secretary of Defense. Which means Mattis took a massive pay cut when he came back into government.
Second chance? Give me a break.
“The guy never loses a battle, never loses. Winning record,” the president told Republican donors last year, according to Politico.
If Trump keeps attacking Mattis — who is revered by military members, lawmakers, and many Americans — he'll probably see that winning record firsthand.
Besides the dig at Mattis, Trump also tweeted on Sunday a critique of his anti-ISIS envoy Brett McGurk, who he claimed he did not know — a hilarious self-own — “was supposed to leave in February but he just resigned prior to leaving. Grandstander?”