Kevin M. Sweeney, a retired rear admiral and chief of staff to the defense secretary, resigned per the Department of Defense on Saturday. Mr. Sweeney was James’ Mattis’ chief of staff since January 2017. He knew Mr. Mattis for years.
Mr. Mattis resigned late December on account of his views on foreign policy which clashed with those of the President. President Trump removed Mattis from his administration two months earlier than Mattis intended. Patrick M. Shanahan, Mattis’ deputy and ex-Boeing executive, stepped up as defense secretary on January 1. Mr. Shanahan worked at Boeing for 30 years and aides say President Trump favors him because he reassures the President he is right about how expensive defense systems are.
On the Defense Department’s webpage, Sweeney posted a statement saying, “After two years in the Pentagon, I’ve decided the time is right to return to the private sector. It has been an honor to serve again alongside the men and women of the Department of Defense”.
In 1982, Sweeney graduated from the Naval Academy. He served as executive assistant to the undersecretary of the Navy and to the commander of the Joint Forces Command. Mr. Sweeney retired from his position as a rear admiral in 2014. After he retired, Mr. Sweeney took a number of executive roles in the private sector before he joined the Department of Defense. He also served on multiple boards such as the Eastern Virginia Medical School Board of Visitors.
Sweeney’s resignation follows those of former White House chief of staff John Kelly, former defense secretary James Mattis, and special presidential envoy to the coalition fighting IS, Brett McGurk.
A Trump administration political appointee, chief Pentagon spokeswoman, Dana White, reported directly to Secretary Mattis. She submitted a letter of resignation and left on January 1, the same day Mattis left. The Defense Department’s inspector general opened an internal investigation into her conduct on the job. She is accused of having her support staff run errands for her and retaliating against them with inappropriate department transfers when they filed complaints against her. Charles Summers Jr., a principal deputy assistant to Mattis, replaced White on Tuesday.
CNN reported that a knowledgeable source let their Jake Tapper know Sweeney was compelled to resign from his position. It is unclear whether this is true and why Sweeney may have been forced out of his job.
Current Secretary of Defense, Patrick Shanahan, thanked Sweeney for his service and wished him luck for the future.
1 of 2: I greatly appreciate Kevin Sweeney’s service to our nation, first as a Navy officer of more than 30 years, and then as the Chief of Staff for the Secretary of Defense for the past two years.
— Acting SecDef Pat Shanahan (@DepSecDef) January 6, 2019
High turnover in the Trump administration is promoting global uncertainty of America and its government. On Tuesday, Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, ventures on a weeklong trip to the Middle East to reassure allies there.
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