As if President Trump's stream of tweets defending his decision to pull US troops from Syria - and his lashing out at the apoplexy of th US military establishment - didn't clearly communicate Trump's anger over the resignation of Defense Jim "Mad Dog" Mattis (who said in his resignation letter that the Syria decision was the last straw), President Trump tweeted Sunday that he had appointed Patrick Shanahan, Mattis's deputy and a former Boeing exec, to serve as the acting Secretary of Defense, effectively confirming reports that he was pushing to terminate Mattis immediately, ahead of the Feb. 28 departure date that Mattis had set out in his letter.
I am pleased to announce that our very talented Deputy Secretary of Defense, Patrick Shanahan, will assume the title of Acting Secretary of Defense starting January 1, 2019. Patrick has a long list of accomplishments while serving as Deputy, & previously Boeing. He will be great!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2018
Trump then acknowledged his conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which reportedly inspired him to withdraw troops.
I just had a long and productive call with President @RT_Erdogan of Turkey. We discussed ISIS, our mutual involvement in Syria, & the slow & highly coordinated pullout of U.S. troops from the area. After many years they are coming home. We also discussed heavily expanded Trade.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2018
Earlier, CBS and the New York Times reported that Trump was preparing to push out Mattis by the end of the year, ahead of the agreed-upon Feb. 28 departure date that Mattis had included in his letter.
Breaking - our David Martin reports that @realDonaldTrump will order SecDef Mattis to leave his Pentagon post immediately rather than work through the February 28 date he cited in his resignation letter. Deputy Patrick Shanahan to step into role. SAO confirmed.— margaret brennan (@margbrennan) December 23, 2018
.@CBSDavidMartin on Mattis on @FaceTheNation: “We have a statement from the Pentagon saying the Secretary of Defense serves at the pleasure of the President. And I interpret that as meaning that the Secretary has been asked to go at once.” pic.twitter.com/K48DjKzE8m— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) December 23, 2018
The NYT reported that Trump told administration officials that he would try and force Mattis out before the new year, a sign that he is furious over the days of news coverage characterizing Mattis's departure as a rebuke of Trump's reckless foreign policy. Trump reportedly wants to replace Mattis with Patrick M. Shanahan, Mattis’s deputy, as the acting defense secretary while he finishes his search for a permanent replacement.
The departure is hardly a surprise, Trump had been tweeting critical messages about Mattis and Brett McGurk, a top national security official who resigned after Mattis.
When President Obama ingloriously fired Jim Mattis, I gave him a second chance. Some thought I shouldn’t, I thought I should. Interesting relationship-but I also gave all of the resources that he never really had. Allies are very important-but not when they take advantage of U.S.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2018
Trump also accused the media of bias, tweeting that if anybody but he had pulled troops out of Syria after decimating ISIS, they would have been heralded as a hero.
If anybody but your favorite President, Donald J. Trump, announced that, after decimating ISIS in Syria, we were going to bring our troops back home (happy & healthy), that person would be the most popular hero in America. With me, hit hard instead by the Fake News Media. Crazy!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2018
Trump slammed McGurk as a turncoat Obama appointee who was already expected to leave in February.
Brett McGurk, who I do not know, was appointed by President Obama in 2015. Was supposed to leave in February but he just resigned prior to leaving. Grandstander? The Fake News is making such a big deal about this nothing event!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2018
With Shanahan as acting SecDef, one thing is for sure: The military-industrial-complex will be well looked after.
Here's Shanahan's official bio, which shows just how deep his ties with government contractors run.
Patrick M. Shanahan became the 33rd Deputy Secretary of Defense on July 19, 2017. Mr. Shanahan most recently served as Boeing senior vice president, Supply Chain & Operations. A Washington state native, Mr. Shanahan joined Boeing in 1986 and spent over three decades with the company. He previously worked as senior vice president of Commercial Airplane Programs, managing profit and loss for the 737, 747, 767, 777 and 787 programs and the operations at Boeing's principal manufacturing sites; as vice president and general manager of the 787 Dreamliner, leading the program during a critical development period; as vice president and general manager of Boeing Missile Defense Systems, overseeing the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, Airborne Laser and Advanced Tactical Laser; and as vice president and general manager of Boeing Rotorcraft Systems, overseeing the Apache, Chinook and Osprey. He previously held leadership positions on the 757 program, 767 program and in the fabrication division. Mr. Shanahan is a Royal Aeronautical Society Fellow, Society of Manufacturing Engineers Fellow and American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Associate Fellow. He served as a regent at the University of Washington for over five years. Mr. Shanahan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Washington and two advanced degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering, and an MBA from MIT’s Sloan School of Management.
If anything can be gleaned from Shanahan's ascendancy to the top position at DOJ, it's that, after a rough couple of weeks for the aerospace company, Monday could be a good day for Boeing shares (and the Dow more broadly).