This has been one of the most chaotic weeks in DC politics, and even this news is sending shockwaves through Washington. The Secretary of Defense, General Jim Mattis, is "retiring" in February of 2019. This was announced via Presidential* Tweet, so it is definitely real.
There has been a lot of chatter over the last few months that Trump and Mattis didn't have the best relationship, but Mattis was viewed by most in D.C. as one of the last adults in the room. He was one of the few people who, in the face of Trump's tantrums and chaotic meltdowns, has managed to keep us from war, calmed Trump down and kept the ship afloat.
CNN's Barbara Starr is reading the letter, dated yesterday, which makes it clear that Mattis quit. He isn't retiring. His last day is the end of February and he feels Trump needs a Defense Secretary "better aligned with his views." The letter talks extensively about how America needs to have better relationships with its allies (ie, not Russia, China or North Korea). It is also worth noting that the letter is dated within 24 hours of Trump's hasty decision to pull the troops out of Syria, a decision which has nothing but bipartisan disdain.
Read the resignation letter here:
Here is Barbara Starr, reading parts of the letter on the air.
Update: (Karoli) Nancy Pelosi was visibly shaken by Mattis' resignation, telling reporters, "You have great leaders who have left this administration in dismay and others who have left this administration in disgrace". That would seem to sum the situation up quite nicely, since Ryan Zinke is slinking out of the administration even as I write.
Also, we are hearing that this is a portent of things to come.
Chaos on Pennsylvania Avenue -- It could be a movie title.