Although Mattis was expected to make his departure from the administration by the end of February, Trump indicated on Sunday that he would be pushed out early, tweeting Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will become the acting defense secretary on January 1.
Administration officials said Trump was annoyed by Mattis' resignation letter, which included an implicit criticism of Trump's disregard for allies. Shanahan was travelling away from Washington when Trump tweeted his decision, and a spokesman for Shanahan declined to comment. He had worked for more than three decades at Boeing Co. and was a senior vice president when he became Pentagon deputy in July 2017.
According to Stars and Stripes, then-Brigadier General Mattis pulled Christmas Day duty in the place of a young Marine, giving him the opportunity to spend the day with his family.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), typically one of Trump's most loyal congressional allies, disagreed. Historically when a secretary has resigned, he has stayed on until a successor is confirmed.
US President Donald Trump, who aides said has been seething about news coverage of Defence Secretary James Mattis' pointed resignation letter, abruptly announced on Sunday that he was removing the Pentagon chief two months before his planned departure and installing Patrick Shanahan as acting defence secretary.
Mattis resigned in protest last week after Trump announced the withdrawal of USA troops from Syria over the strong objections of Mattis and others on the national security team.
It is unusual for the Pentagon to have an acting secretary of defense.
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"Deputy Secretary will continue to serve as directed by the president, and the Department of Defence will remain focused on the defence of the nation", Buccino said on Sunday.
Mick Mulvaney told ABC's "This Week" that the president and his defense chief "just could never get on the same page" on Syria, adding that Trump had said since his presidential campaign that "he wanted to get out of Syria".
The White House's abrupt decision to order the full departure of USA ground forces in Syria on Wednesday provoked a flurry of criticism from Republicans and Democrats. Sen.
Mr Trump wrote: "I just had a long and productive call with President @RT_Erdogan of Turkey". They asked Trump to withhold a final decision for 90 days to allow time to study the impact of the decision, but Mulvaney told ABC that Trump wouldn't change his mind.
Turkey has sent military reinforcements to Northern Syria close to an area controlled by Kurdish forces, which were backed by U.S. troops.
Bernstein concluded: "They're talking to each other, there is coming to be a much greater consensus that he is unfit to be the president of the United States".