Defense Secretary James Mattis resigns

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6:52 p.m. ET, December 20, 2018

Mattis tried to change Trump's mind on Syria before resigning

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis decided to go to the White House to discuss his concerns with Syria and try to change President Trump’s mind, but was unable to.

He then resigned, according to a defense official and a White House official. 

Mattis and the President's other top national security advisers opposed Trump's decision to withdraw from Syria.

6:52 p.m. ET, December 20, 2018

Trump to pick Mattis replacement by end of year

President Donald Trump will pick a replacement for outgoing Secretary of Defense James Mattis by the end of the year, a senior official told CNN.

How the resignation happened: Mattis met with Trump one-on-one in the Oval Office, a senior White House official told CNN. Mattis told Trump he was going to be leaving and offered his resignation letter.

6:50 p.m. ET, December 20, 2018

READ: James Mattis' resignation letter

Defense Secretary James Mattis announced on Thursday he would be resigning from his position in the Trump administration -- leaving his role at the end of February.

The news came a day after President Donald Trump's surprise plans to withdraw American troops from Syria became public.

Mattis' resignation letter amounts to a rebuke of several of Trump's foreign policy views, with the outgoing defense secretary touting the importance of US alliances and of being "unambiguous" in approaching adversaries like Russia and China.

It is devoid of any praise for the President.

In his letter of resignation, Mattis said, "Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position."

Read his full letter of resignation here.

6:41 p.m. ET, December 20, 2018

Trump announced news via a tweet, saying Mattis was retiring

The news of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis' departure initially came in the form of a tweet from President Donald Trump, who said Mattis' decision to leave was because he was "retiring."

"General Jim Mattis will be retiring, with distinction, at the end of February, after having served my Administration as Secretary of Defense for the past two years. During Jim’s tenure, tremendous progress has been made, especially with respect to the purchase of new fighting ..." Trump wrote.

He continued in a second tweet: "... equipment. General Mattis was a great help to me in getting allies and other countries to pay their share of military obligations. A new Secretary of Defense will be named shortly. I greatly thank Jim for his service!"

6:40 p.m. ET, December 20, 2018

Mattis quits, says his views aren't "aligned'" with Trump's

Defense Secretary James Mattis resigned Thursday on the heels of President Donald Trump's plans to withdraw troops from Syria, citing irreconcilable policy differences in a move that took Washington by surprise.

"Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position," Mattis wrote in his letter to the President.

Mattis' resignation letter amounts to a rebuke of several of Trump's foreign policy views, with the outgoing defense secretary touting the importance of US alliances and of being "unambiguous" in approaching adversaries like Russia and China. It is devoid of any praise for the President.