Multiple sources are reporting James Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general, will be President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of defense, although a spokesman for the transition said a decision has not been made.
So much for talk of U.S. Sen Tom Cotton as a possibility.
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Mattis is highly respected within the military: The Washington Post says he’s considered “one of the most influential military leaders of his generation.” In Iraq, he led the Marines during the 2004 battle for Fallujah. He’s critical of the Iran nuclear deal and has lamented the decline of U.S. influence in the Middle East. He’s said controversial things about women serving in combat roles and post-traumatic stress disorder.
At least he has Trump’s ear on the issue of state-sanctioned torture, with the president-elect dearly wants to revive. Trump said he was “impressed” by Mattis telling him that he “never found waterboarding to be useful,” though he added that his mind wasn’t changed.
The big one remains: Who will PEOTUS pick for secretary of state? One more general, perhaps?
The Post also notes that Mattis’ appointment will require special congressional approval, since he’s been retired for less than four years:
To take the job, Mattis will need Congress to pass new legislation to bypass a federal law stating that defense secretaries must not have been on active duty in the previous seven years. Congress has granted a similar exception just once, when Gen. George C. Marshall was appointed to the job in 1950.