The Slatest

Trump Dismisses Resignation of Top ISIS Envoy, Says He Doesn’t Even Know Him

President Donald Trump speaks in the Oval Office of the White House December 21, 2018 in Washington, D.C.
President Donald Trump speaks in the Oval Office of the White House December 21, 2018 in Washington, D.C.
Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Donald Trump took to Twitter Saturday night to dismiss as no big deal the resignation of Brett McGurk, the top U.S. envoy in the global coalition to defeat ISIS. The commander in chief said the media was making way too much of an insignificant move by a man who was going to leave soon anyway. “Brett McGurk, who I do not know, was appointed by President Obama in 2015. Was supposed to leave in February but he just resigned prior to leaving,” Trump wrote. “Grandstander? The Fake News is making such a big deal about this nothing event!”

McGurk was set to retire in February, but made the decision to leave earlier following the president’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria. But while Trump tried to downplay McGurk’s significance, Democrats fired back that it was more than a bit concerning for the president to claim he doesn’t know his top official charged with fighting ISIS. “Uhhhh…you don’t know your own coordinator of the anti-ISIS campaign?” Murphy tweeted late Saturday. “The fact that our President has no clue who Brett is should scare the hell out of every American.”

Susan Rice, the former national security adviser, also harshly criticized Trump for claiming he doesn’t know McGurk. “The fact that you say you don’t know @brett_mcgurk speaks volumes about your commitment to fighting ISIS @realDonaldTrump,” Rice wrote. “Why don’t you know the man who has done more than any civilian to degrade ISIS?”

Trump also criticized the media, saying that if anybody “but your favorite President, Donald J. Trump,” would have announced that “after decimating ISIS in Syria, we were going to bring our troops back home (happy & healthy), that person would be the most popular hero in America.” Instead he is being “hit hard … by the Fake News Media. Crazy!”

The president also directed some harsh words toward outgoing Defense Secretary James Mattis, claiming he gave him “a second chance” after he was ousted under the Obama administration. “When President Obama ingloriously fired Jim Mattis, I gave him a second chance. Some thought I shouldn’t, I thought I should,” Trump tweeted. Mattis resigned on Thursday, also in protest of Trump’s sudden decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria. In his resignation letter, Mattis wrote that it was important to “do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values.” He added that the United States is “strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our allies.” Trump appeared to respond directly to Mattis by writing that “Allies are very important-but not when they take advantage of U.S.