We’re ending the year as it began: with the U.S. government headed toward another shutdown, this time chiefly over funding for President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall. Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he will resign at the end of February, citing disagreements with the president over foreign policy. Mattis is just the latest in a long line of senior administration staff, from John Kelly to Nikki Haley, who announced this year that they are leaving the White House.
Mattis’s resignation comes after Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops from Syria—a move that did not come as a shock to longtime Syria-policy experts. Mattis, who has always understood Trump’s deficiencies, agreed to serve him out of a sense of patriotism, writes Jeffrey Goldberg, and his departure signals a dangerous third phase of Trump’s foreign policy. But in coverage of Mattis’s resignation, Conor Friedersdorf writes that the news media has failed “to treat the withdrawal of troops [from Syria] as a legitimate, reasonable position.”
In the final Politics & Policy Daily of 2018, we’re featuring one last round of standout Atlantic politics stories from the past 12 months, including a complex portrait of Heidi Cruz, an assessment of the impact former Attorney General Jeff Sessions has had on the legal gains of the civil-rights era, and an intimate look at the unique weight of grief in the aftermath of the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.