Donald Trump claims that the only similarity he shares with Barack Obama is that they both fired James Mattis. But is that true and if so, why would Obama fire James Mattis?

The US president has been in the news a fair bit this week as protests in the US continue over the death of 46-year-old George Floyd on May 25th.

On Monday, Donald Trump was criticised for dispersing protestors with tear gas and rubber bullets so he could visit St John’s church opposite the White House, posing for a photo-op with a copy of the bible.

Among those criticising Trump was James Mattis, something which quickly earned a response from the president on Twitter.

Trump claimed that the only thing he and Obama have in common is that they both fired James Mattis.

But is this true and if so, why would Obama fire James Mattis?

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Who is James Mattis?

James Mattis was Donald Trump’s defence secretary between 2017 and 2019.

He served in the Marine Corps for 44 years and became a general during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Prior to serving the Trump administration, Mattis held two positions in Obama’s government.

Between 2007 and 2011, Mattis held the role of Commander of the United States Joint Forces Command and between 2011 and 2013, Mattis was Commander of the United States Central Command.

Photo credit should read TIM SLOAN/AFP via Getty Images

Did Obama fire Mattis and if so, why?

Technically, Barack Obama did not fire James Mattis.

Instead, Mattis is reported to have retired from the role of Commander of the United States Central Command in March 2013.

In his memoirs, Leon Panetta – Obama’s defence secretary between 2011 and 2013 – states that Mattis and the Obama administration didn’t always see eye-to-eye, especially when it came to Mattis wanting to increase the US presence in Syria.

So while there may have been some tension, officially Mattis did retire, only to be brought out of his retirement by Trump.

Trump claims to have fired James Mattis himself but officially, just like in Obama’s administration, Mattis resigned as the Secretary of Defence.

However, the president is understood to have sped up his resignation and thus claims to have fired him.

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Where is James Mattis now?

Since leaving the Trump administration in January 2019, James Mattis has taken the time to write a book, Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead and was re-elected to the board of General Dynamics, a private defence corporation.

After leaving his post as the Secretary of Defence, James Mattis has been relatively quiet on Trump’s presidency.

Since his resignation, Mattis has publically criticised Trump and his administration twice.

The most recent being criticism of Trump’s handling of the death of George Floyd and the subsequent protests.

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