Congressional Republicans are angry that Defense Secretary James Mattis won’t staff the Pentagon with GOP partisans.
The retired four-star Marine Corps general was widely praised when President Donald Trump nominated him to the top defense post, but GOP lawmakers are disappointed that Mattis has hired veterans of Democratic administrations instead of their own political allies, reported Politico.
“He certainly has got a tough job, but it sometimes feels like he forgets that we won the election,” said one aide to a GOP senator on the Armed Services Committee.
Mattis has resisted nominating candidates with political backgrounds, the website reported, including for GOP representative Randy Forbes as Navy secretary and former senator Jim Talent for a variety of posts.
The GOP foreign policy establishment had pushed for both men, neither of whom was openly critical of Trump the candidate, to be nominated to defense posts.
Mattis instead chose candidates with backgrounds in law, diplomacy and business — regardless of their political views.
“We’ve waited eight years for this, to be able to fill these posts with Republicans,” said another Republican congressional staffer. “We know Trump isn’t part of the establishment and that it’s going to be a bit different, but it should go without saying that a Republican administration is expected to staff federal agencies with Republicans.”
Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) fought the nomination of Anne Patterson, who served as President Barack Obama’s ambassador to Egypt, as the Pentagon’s undersecretary of policy.
Patterson’s nomination was eventually withdrawn.
Mattis reportedly threatened to resign unless a Trump loyalist was removed from her job at the Office of Presidential Personnel, where the former campaign staffer served as “a roadblock for nominees” seen as disloyal to the president.
Ricardel will be reassigned to another job at the Department of Commerce.
Pentagon veterans say the loyalty test has put Mattis in a difficult position, because so much of the Republican foreign policy establishment openly criticized Trump during the campaign.
That has left Mattis without much choice other than to pick Democrats or candidates without a political background.