As a candidate, Trump promised to surround himself with 'only with the best and most serious people.'
Donald Trump's new attack on his former secretary of defense is the latest in a series of broadsides against the very people he appointed.
As a candidate, Trump said in 2016 that he would only hire outstanding people. "I'm going to surround myself only with the best and most serious people," he told the Washington Post. "We want top of the line professionals."
On Wednesday, he accused retired Gen. Jim Mattis of having done an incompetent job during his two years running the Pentagon. "Probably the only thing Barack Obama & I have in common is that we both had the honor of firing Jim Mattis, the world's most overrated General. I asked for his letter of resignation, & felt great about it," Trump tweeted. "I gave him a new life, things to do, and battles to win, but he seldom 'brought home the bacon'. I didn't like his 'leadership' style or much else about him, and many others agree. Glad he is gone!"
Trump was angry that Mattis, who he said in December 2018 was "retiring, with distinction" after making "tremendous progress," had criticized him in a story published on Wednesday by the Atlantic magazine.
Mattis said in his statement, "We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution." Donald Trump, he said, "is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us."
Mattis is the latest in a long line of Trump appointees who have been on the receiving end of his attacks. Here are nine other people he hired and then later accused of incompetence.
Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions
Donald Trump selected Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions in December 2016 to run the Justice Department, calling him a "world-class legal mind." After Sessions recused himself in March 2017 from decisions related to the investigation of Russia's meddling in the 2016 election, Trump began a yearslong series of attacks on him.
In September 2018, Trump said, "I don't have an attorney general," two months before firing Sessions. Last month, he told Sinclair Television that Sessions "was a disaster as attorney general," "should never have been attorney general," and "was not mentally qualified to be attorney general."
Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
Trump selected Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson in December 2016 to be secretary of state, saying, "I can think of no one more prepared and no one more dedicated to serve as secretary of state at this critical time in our history."
Former chief of staff and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly
When he replaced Kelly with Mick Mulvaney as chief of staff in December 2018, Trump lauded Kelly for serving "our Country with distinction." But after Kelly criticized Trump this February for firing impeachment witness Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, Trump changed his tune. "When I terminated John Kelly, which I couldn't do fast enough, he knew full well that he was over his head. Being Chief of Staff just wasn't for him," he tweeted.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell
Trump picked Powell in November 2017 to chair the Federal Reserve, praising his "integrity and good judgment."
By last August, he was already criticizing Powell for a "horrendous lack of vision." He called him an "enemy" of America, comparing him to the head of China's Communist Party. This March, Trump tweeted that the "Jerome Powell led Federal Reserve has called it wrong from day one. Sad!"
Former national security adviser John Bolton
Last September, Trump tweeted that he had "informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House." "I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration," he wrote, later complaining, "He was holding me back!"
Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein
Trump nominated Rod Rosenstein in February 2017 to be second-in-command at the Justice Department. With Session's recusal, Rosenstein became acting attorney general overseeing the Russia investigation.
Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci
Former chief strategist Steve Bannon
Trump named his campaign aide Steve Bannon to be chief White House strategist days after his November 2016 victory. He ousted him the following August after Bannon clashed with other White House staff.
After initially praising Bannon for his tenure, Trump ridiculed him in January 2018 for his critical comments he'd made that made it into a published book about the Trump White House. "Sloppy Steve Bannon," he charged "cried when he got fired and begged for his job. Now Sloppy Steve has been dumped like a dog by almost everyone. Too bad!"
Former assistant Omarosa Manigault Newman
Trump selected Omarosa Manigault Newman, a three-time fired contestant on his reality television show, in January 2017 to run communications for the White House Office of Public Liaison and serve as an adviser. When she was fired that December by chief of staff Kelly, Trump thanked her and wished her "continued success."
After she released secretly recorded audio tapes from her time in the White House, Trump tweeted: "Wacky Omarosa, who got fired 3 times on the Apprentice, now got fired for the last time. She never made it, never will. She begged me for a job, tears in her eyes, I said Ok. People in the White House hated her. She was vicious, but not smart."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.