Incoming acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said Sunday that President Trump is not going to change his mind about withdrawing troops from Syria, even after both his secretary of defense and top U.S. diplomat for the campaign to defeat ISIS resigned because of it.
“Is there any chance the president changes his mind about this and reverses course?” ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl asked Mulvaney in an interview on “This Week.”
“No, I think the president has told people from the very beginning that he doesn’t want us to stay in Syria forever. You’re seeing the end result now of two years worth of work,” he said. Mulvaney is replacing John Kelly as chief of staff in the new year. Mulvaney has previously served as the director of the Office of Management and Budget.
The president announced via Twitter on Thursday that James Mattis would be retiring at the end of February. In Mattis’ resignation letter, the secretary of defense said he was leaving the administration so that President Trump could have a cabinet member with views “better aligned” with his own. His resignation came just a day after the president announced he would be pulling troops out of Syria, and following news reports that Trump also planned to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
….equipment. General Mattis was a great help to me in getting allies and other countries to pay their share of military obligations. A new Secretary of Defense will be named shortly. I greatly thank Jim for his service!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 20, 2018
On Saturday, Brett McGurk, the special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, also resigned because of Trump’s decision. In an email to staff, McGurk said the president’s decision “came as a shock and was a complete reversal of policy that was articulated to us.” He added that he “could not carry out these new instructions and maintain my integrity.” The contents of the email were first reported by The New York Times and confirmed by ABC News.