Aug 28, 2019

Jim Mattis: "I did as well as I could for as long as I could"

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said he "did as well as [he] could for as long as [he] could" during his tenure in the Trump administration, according to a new book excerpt published Wednesday by the Wall Street Journal.

Why it matters: The foreign-policy-focused piece — released just days after President Trump's weekend at the G7 summit — represents Mattis' first at-length comments since he left the White House in February after stating that his views were "not aligned" with those of the president.

Between the lines: Mattis' analysis of America's place in the world never mentions Trump by name, but it clearly echoes the views discussed in his resignation letter.

What he's saying:

  • "A wise leader must deal with reality and state what he intends, and what level of commitment he is willing to invest in achieving that end. He then has to trust that his subordinates know how to carry that out. Wise leadership requires collaboration; otherwise, it will lead to failure."
  • "Nations with allies thrive, and those without them wither. Alone, America cannot protect our people and our economy. ... A polemicist's role is not sufficient for a leader."
  • "A leader must display strategic acumen that incorporates respect for those nations that have stood with us when trouble loomed. Returning to a strategic stance that includes the interests of as many nations as we can make common cause with, we can better deal with this imperfect world we occupy together. Absent this, we will occupy an increasingly lonely position, one that puts us at increasing risk in the world."

Go deeper: Mattis resignation letter lists ways he was "not aligned" with Trump

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The national security gaps in the Trump administration

Photo: Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images

John Bolton's White House departure on Tuesday isn't the only hole in the Trump administration's national security apparatus.

Why it matters: The U.S., either on a diplomatic or military level, is currently engaged in conflicts with Iran, Venezuela, North Korea and Afghanistan — to name a few. The sheer volume of global hotspots that threaten U.S. national security demand some semblance of government stability.

Go deeperArrowSep 10, 2019

Top literary agents say Trump's ex-personal secretary could make millions

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

A couple of Washington's top literary agents say President Trump's former personal secretary, Madeleine Westerhout, could make millions if she writes a tell-all of her time working for the president.

Driving the news: Keith Urbahn and Matt Latimer — who run the literary agency Javelin and secured 7-figure book deals for former FBI director James Comey and former White House official Cliff Sims — say most publishers in the country right now want a meeting with Westerhout.

Go deeperArrowSep 1, 2019

China builds influence at U.N. as U.S. cuts back

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Two of U.S. President Donald Trump's least favorite things in the wider world these days are the United Nations, which he sees as an expensive nuisance, and China, which he views as a major rival. But in neglecting one, he might be helping the other.

The backdrop: The Trump administration said it will cut back on U.S. funding for the U.N., in part because Trump — like many conservatives in Washington — sees it as an inefficient, and in some ways illegitimate, encroachment on America's ability to do what it wants in the world.

Go deeperArrowSep 25, 2019