Lawmakers sound bipartisan alarm after resignation by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis

The sun rises behind the White House in Washington Saturday Dec. 22 2018. Hundreds of thousands of federal workers faced a partial government shutdown early Saturday after Democrats refused to meet President Donald Trump's demands for $5 billion to sta

The sun rises behind the White House in Washington Saturday Dec. 22 2018. Hundreds of thousands of federal workers faced a partial government shutdown early Saturday after Democrats refused to meet President Donald Trump's demands for $5 billion to sta

- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2018When President Obama ingloriously fired Jim Mattis, I gave him a second chance. "You have the right to have a secretary of Defense with views that are better aligned with yours".

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi also described Gen Mattis as a "comfort to many" who were concerned about the Trump presidency.

"We must also maintain a clear-eyed understanding of our friends and foes, and recognise that nations like Russian Federation are among the latter".

Mattis also was dismayed by plans under consideration to cut the number of US troops in Afghanistan and, as his letter made clear, did not see eye to eye with a president who has expressed disdain for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and doubts about keeping troops in Asia.

After months of speculation about Mattis' future as defense secretary, Trump broke the news late Thursday that the Pentagon chief would be stepping down in February.

Retired Army Gen Stanley McChrystal, the former top United States commander in Afghanistan, told CNN: "The kind of leadership that causes a dedicated patriot like Jim Mattis to leave should give pause to every American".

The Kentucky Republican also urged Mr Trump to choose a replacement "who shares Secretary Mattis' understanding" of American principles.

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In a rare public disagreement with the president Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, said he was "distressed" by Mr Mattis's departure.

"As this Administration continues to implode, Secretary Mattis' extraordinary resignation is a significant loss and a real indication that President Trump's foreign policy agenda has failed and continues to spiral into chaos", said Sen.

"I'm shaken by the news because of the patriot that Secretary Mattis is".

In his letter of resignation, Mattis said while he was "privileged" to serve as Secretary of Defense, he also believes in "treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors".

Mattis, a former U.S. Marine Corps general, has served in the position for two years. When Mr Mattis leaves in February they will all be gone from the administration.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said that "Mattis' letter of resignation is the plea of a patriot put in an untenable position" and that his exit "is deeply alarming - nearly our worst nightmare".

"As an ally and member of the anti-IS coalition we would have considered prior consultation by the USA government about the withdrawal of USA troops helpful", government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said.

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