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Mattis’ brother says he had no anger over being forced out by Trump

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The phone call Tom Mattis got from Jim Mattis on Sunday morning wasn’t a pleasant one, but he said his younger brother was “unruffled” by President Donald Trump’s decision to force him out early, the elder Mattis told The Seattle Times.

“He was very calm about the whole thing. Very matter of fact. No anger,” Tom Mattis told The Seattle Times. “As I have said many times in other circumstances, Jim knows who he is … many more Americans (now) know his character.”

Jim Mattis announced his resignation as defense secretary on December 20, reportedly prompted in large part by Trump’s decision to withdraw the roughly 2,000 US troops deployed to Syria.

Read More:Here’s how Donald Trump took shots at NATO in 2018 — and it spurred Jim Mattis to quit in protest

Mattis went to the White House that day in an effort to get Trump to keep US forces in the war-torn country. Mattis “was rebuffed, and told the president that he was resigning as a result,” The New York Times said at the time.

Defense Secretary James Mattis.
Yuri Gripas/Reuters

Trump initially reacted to Mattis’ resignation gracefully, tweeting that the defense chief and retired Marine general would be “retiring, with distinction, at the end of February,” echoing Mattis’ resignation letter.

But Trump reportedly bridled at coverage of Mattis and his letter, which was widely interpreted as a rebuke of Trump and of the president’s worldview.

Read More:‘Is there nothing to stop this guy?’: Here are the checks that are left on Trump’s military power

On December 23, Trump abruptly announced that Mattis would leave office two months early, sending Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to tell Mattis of the change. Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will take over the top civilian job at the Pentagon in an acting capacity.

Trump’s sudden move to push Mattis out was reportedly a retaliatory measure, but Mattis evinced no ire over it when he told his older brother on Sunday.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Mattis, and national-security adviser John Bolton.
Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images

The Mattises are natives of Richland, Washington. Tom, who was also a Marine, still lives there, as does their 96-year-old mother, Lucille.

Read More:The Coast Guard turned down a request for an Arctic exercise out of concern the US’s only heavy icebreaker would break down and Russia would have to rescue it

Tom said his brother was faithful to the Constitution and would always speak truth to power “regardless of the consequences.”

“No one should assume that his service to his country will end. And the manner of his departure is yet another service to the nation. It is the very definition of patriotism and integrity,” Tom Mattis added.

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis speaks to US troops at Base Camp Donna in Donna, Texas, November 14, 2018.
Master Sgt. Jacob Caldwel/U.S. Army/Handout via REUTERS

Jim Mattis — who checks in with their mother almost daily, Tom Mattis said — had no plans to return home from Christmas, according to the elder Mattis, hoping instead to visit troops in the Middle East.

But Trump’s announcement appeared to forestall that trip.

Read More:H.R. McMaster reportedly called Trump out for asking about taking Iraq’s oil

On December 19, a day before his resignation, Mattis released a holiday message to US service members, telling them “thanks for keeping the faith.”

On December 24, Mattis signed an order withdrawing US troops from Syria, the Defense Department said, though a timeline and specific details are still being worked on. On Christmas Day, Mattis was reportedly in his office at the Pentagon.

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