Defense Secretary James Mattis‘s decision to quit the Trump administration is the latest indication of a Cabinet constantly being shaken up.
Mattis, who President Trump announced Sunday will leave office at the end of this year — ahead of the secretary’s preferred exit — is just the latest person with a high-level national security or foreign policy position to be headed out of the president’s orbit.
Some have resigned, others have been ousted, and a few have moved to other posts within the administration.
It will leave Trump with a different team in 2019.
Here’s a look at the top national security-related posts that have seen turnover under Trump.
National security adviser
Three people have served as Trump’s principal adviser on national security and foreign policy issues in the White House.
The president tapped Michael Flynn, a retired three-star Army general turned vociferous campaign surrogate, to serve as his national security adviser shortly after the 2016 election.
Flynn’s tenure was extremely brief. He was forced to resign less than a month into the post over revelations that he misled Vice President Pence about contacts with the Russian ambassador during the transition. Since then Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about those contacts, and he cooperated with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference.
Trump then appointed H.R. McMaster, another army lieutenant general. McMaster was widely viewed as one of the more moderate voices in the administration and was said to have clashed with Trump on various issues, including the 2015 Iran nuclear deal that Trump consistently disparaged on the campaign trail.
But McMaster didn’t last long, either. In April of this year, Trump moved to replace him with John Bolton, a George W. Bush-era official known for his hawkish views on China and Iran.
Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey in May 2017 is viewed as one of the most controversial moments of his presidency.
The move came just months after Comey publicly confirmed the existence of the FBI’s investigation into whether associates of the Trump campaign coordinated with Moscow to interfere in the 2016 election.
And while the firing was predicated on a recommendation from the Justice Department that Comey be removed for his handling of the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server, Trump later told NBC News that the “Russia thing” factored into his decision. Mueller is said to be reviewing Comey’s firing in his probe into whether the president obstructed justice.
Comey, who has since become a frequent critic of Trump, later testified before the Senate that the president had asked him to abandon the FBI’s investigation into Flynn.
The Senate later confirmed Christopher Wray, another veteran of the George W. Bush administration, as FBI director.
Now-former Attorney General Jeff Sessions joined the administration as a trusted confidant with whom Trump had built a strong rapport during the campaign.
Source: Trump’s national security team is constant source of turnover | TheHill