Another senior member of Donald Trump’s administration is quitting.
Defence Secretary James Mattis, widely seen as a stabilising influence on Mr Trump, has announced he will resign on February 28, giving the President time to find and nominate a successor.
In his resignation letter, General Mattis told Mr Trump he had “the right to have a Secretary of Defence whose views are better aligned with yours”.
He cited disagreements with Mr Trump on the treatment of America’s allies – and its adversaries.
“While the US remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies,” Gen Mattis said.
He pointedly mentioned the 74-nation coalition against Islamic State as an example of that principle at work.
Yesterday Mr Trump announced his decision to withdraw US forces from Syria and declared Islamic State had been defeated.
He was subsequently slammed by members of his own party, who called the decision a “betrayal” of America’s allies in the region, the Kurds.
Gen Mattis also implied Mr Trump had been too soft on Russia, whose influence in the Middle East will grow as a result of the withdrawal.
“I believe we must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours,” he said.
“It is clear that China and Russia, for example, want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model.
“That is why we must use all the tools of American power to provide for the common defence.
“My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues.”
Mr Trump has frequently been accused of being too friendly towards Russian President Vladimir Putin, particularly in response to Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
His critics have also taken issue with his praise for North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un in the wake of their summit in Singapore.
Overnight North Korea said it would not denuclearise until the US eliminated its own “nuclear threat”, undermining Mr Trump’s claims he had secured a denuclearisation deal at the summit.
Gen Mattis is merely the latest in a long line of top officials who have departed Mr Trump’s administration.
Last month Attorney General Jeff Sessions was forced out by Mr Trump, who resented his decision to recuse himself from overseeing Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
The President had repeatedly unleashed humiliating criticism of Mr Sessions in public.
In March Mr Trump fired his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, and has since labelled him “dumb as a rock”.
Mr Trump is about to move on to his third White House chief of staff following the resignation of Reince Priebus in 2017 and the recent news that John Kelly will leave by the end of this year.
He has been through multiple press secretaries, including Sean Spicer and Anthony Scaramucci, who famously lasted only 11 days in the job.
Chief Economic Adviser Gary Cohn quit after clashing with Mr Trump on trade policy.
Communications Director Hope Hicks, one of the President’s most trusted staffers, resigned in February. She was the fourth person to hold that role.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was forced out after his costly use of private charter planes for government business blew up into a public scandal.
Mr Trump’s chief political strategist Steve Bannon was fired in August of last year.
More to come.
Originally published as Shock resignation rocks Donald Trump