WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will leave Jan. 1, rather than the previously announced resignation date of Feb. 28 because of policy disputes with President Donald Trump.
Mattis announced Thursday he was stepping down Feb. 28 because of disagreements with Trump ranging from Syria to global alliances and sparking deep anxiety among lawmakers about national security.
But Trump tweeted Sunday that Mattis would leave sooner. Trump named Patrick Shanahan, the deputy defense secretary, as acting secretary of defense.
Shanahan will be taking over as acting Defense secretary Jan. 1, Dana White, chief Pentagon spokeswoman, said Sunday.
Mick Mulvaney, acting White House chief of staff, said Sunday that relations between Trump and Mattis had been fraying and that it was the right thing for a cabinet secretary to resign if he couldn’t serve the president. But Mattis’ departure led to widespread criticism from Republicans and Democrats in Congress.