In December, Defense Secretary James Mattis resigned in protest after President Donald Trump announced plans to withdraw troops from Syria. As the last “adult in the room” at the White House, observers worried that his departure would loosen the president’s behavior even further. Days after the news broke though, Christmas and the government shutdown pushed Mattis’s resignation into the background.
Now, nine months later, he’s beginning to speak publicly again. For the latest issue of the magazine, Editor in Chief Jeffrey Goldberg wrote about a series of conversations he had with Mattis. He rejoins Radio Atlantic with the host Edward-Isaac Dovere.
Whether Mattis, the most respected figure to serve in Trump’s Cabinet, will speak openly about the president before the election;
Why a defense secretary may not be the check on a president that many believe him to be (as Goldberg says, the commander in chief is a democratically elected “nuclear monarch”);
And whether the departure of the last “adult in the room” has mattered. As Goldberg describes, we’ve thus far been lucky that an international crisis (or at least one not manufactured by the president himself) has yet to answer that question.