Speed Reads

so long farewell

James Mattis urges Defense Department to 'defend the Constitution' in departure message

Defense Secretary James Mattis has a way with words.

Just two weeks after submitting a scathing resignation letter after disagreeing with President Trump's withdrawal of troops from Syria, Mattis issued another, shorter letter on the last day of his tenure. In the Monday letter, he challenged former President Abraham Lincoln's message to Ulysses S. Grant just before the end of the Civil War. Mattis quoted Lincoln's orders, and similarly told defense employees to stay "undistracted" from their "mission" of protecting the Constitution.

Mattis was originally slated to leave the administration in February. But Trump announced last week Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan would be taking over Jan. 1, speeding up his departure. The change reportedly came after Trump read Mattis' harsh resignation letter — a few days after Mattis originally submitted it.