- President Donald Trump went on to claim that former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis had been fired instead of voluntarily resigning.
- Trump claimed he asked Mattis for a letter of resignation.
- The President's memory of the incident contradicts the report in Bob Woodward's recent White House report "Rage".
- In the book, Woodward wrote that Mattis made two copies of his resignation letter – one copy to take to a controversial meeting with Trump and the other copy in his office to be given to news organizations.
- You can find more stories on the Business Insider homepage.
President Donald Trump went on to claim that his former Secretary of Defense had been fired instead of voluntarily resigning. This claim was recently refuted by an award-winning Washington Post journalist.
Speaking to an audience at an ABC News town hall Tuesday, Trump criticized Jim Mattis, a retired four-star Marine Corps general, for one of the many "disgruntled former employees" who had left his administration under adverse circumstances.
"Highly overrated general, did not do the job," Trump said of the revered retired officer.
Mattis announced his resignation in December 2018, citing differences of opinion with the president's decision to withdraw US troops from Syria. The withdrawal, which Mattis strongly opposed, would leave US allies in the region and contradict what Mattis saw as the guiding star of America's strength.
"Because you have the right to have a defense secretary whose views are more in line with yours on these and other issues, I consider it right to step down from my position," Mattis wrote in his letter of resignation to Trump.
But while in town hall on Tuesday, Trump claimed, "He hasn't resigned."
"Give me a letter. Not anymore. Give me a letter," Trump recalled. "I said," Jim, give me a letter. It's time for you to move on. ""
"He gave me a letter, but I fired him," added Trump. "That means, 'I fired him.' Well, General Mattis didn't do the job. I wasn't happy with him."
The President's memory of the incident contradicts the report in Bob Woodward's recent White House report "Rage". Woodward, an award-winning journalist best known for his work exposing the Watergate scandal in 1972, has written numerous books on American presidents and their top advisors based on in-depth interviews with insiders.
In his latest book, drawn from over a dozen sources, Woodward wrote that Mattis wrote two copies of a letter of resignation immediately before meeting the president. Mattis tried to persuade Trump to roll back his abrupt decision to withdraw US forces from Syria in late December – a conversation he had half expected to be unsuccessful.
Mattis took a copy of his resignation letter and left the remaining copy on the top of his desk drawer, Woodward wrote.
Ultimately, Mattis failed to convince the president that the US presence in the region, in addition to its allies, is vital in the fight against ISIS.
"Mr President, it is probably best if you read this," Mattis said before handing his letter to Trump, loudly "Rage".
Trump reportedly replied to Mattis & # 39; letter: "It's not a really nice letter."
"Mr President, if you and I disagree that we split on the allies – as we view allies – the press will rightly come up with a hundred different reasons why I am leaving," Mattis replied.
Trump agreed with Mattis' assessment and asked if the letter would be published.
"It has to be public," said Mattis. "Number one, it's going to leak if we don't. Just put that thing out there and say, 'That's all it is.'"
After leaving the White House, Mattis called his chief of staff and instructed him to forward the letter on his desk to the media, Woodward wrote.
Mattis was largely silent after his resignation, a move that broke with other former senior White House officials who briefly left the Trump administration. However, in June he released a statement The Atlantic Proposing Trump was a threat to the U.S. Constitution.
"Donald Trump is the first president in my life who doesn't try to unite the American people – he doesn't even pretend to try. Instead, he's trying to divide us," wrote Mattis. "We are witnessing the consequences of three years of these deliberate efforts. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership."
"We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would mock our constitution," added Mattis.