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"Away from the cameras and apart from the nonstop drama of the White House, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has come to play a role unlike any other Cabinet member," the WashPost's Greg Jaffe and Dan Lamothe write on the front page:
- "The retired Marine general has become a force for calm, order and, in the eyes of the president's critics, quiet resistance to some of President Trump's most combative and divisive instincts."
- "Mattis has maintained this air of independence without directly provoking a president who demands absolute loyalty."
- "The latest example came [yesterday] morning when Trump vented his frustrations with North Korea after its latest missile launch. 'Talking is not the answer!' Trump tweeted ... 'We're never out of diplomatic solutions,' Mattis said."
- "On Tuesday night, Mattis seemed again to be in mitigation mode when he announced that he would be pulling together a 'panel of experts' to provide advice on how to implement Trump's ordered ban on transgender troops."
- Why it matters: "Mattis's deft political touch has surprised many who watched him fall out of favor with the Obama White House. ... In the Trump administration he has managed to press his differences without provoking a backlash."
Be smart: Mattis is a linchpin of what we call the unofficial Committee to Save America — administration and congressional leaders who see themselves as playing a behind-the-scenes role in protecting Trump and the nation from some of his instincts.