Daily Video

December 21, 2018

Defense Secretary Mattis departs President’s cabinet



Directions: Read the summary, watch the video and then answer the discussion questions. Your students may find it helpful to follow along using the transcript.


Summary: A day after President Trump announced a surprise decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, Secretary of Defense James Mattis submitted his resignation, which will take effect in February. The Wall Street Journal’s Michael Gordon joins Judy Woodruff to discuss why the policy differences between the president and Mattis were “too profound” to continue working together.


Discussion questions: 


1) What subjects did Mattis and Trump disagree on? Why was Syria the last straw before Mattis’s departure, according to the Wall Street Journal’s Michael Gordon?


2) Mattis writes in his resignation letter to Trump: “Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position.” What tone does his letter take? Do you think Mattis should have stayed in his position? Why or why not? Do you think cabinet secretaries and the president should always agree with each other? Explain.


3) What is the significance of Mattis’s departure?


4) Why have so many high-ranking members left the Trump administration in the last two years? You may want to take a look at this CNN departure chart.


5) Media literacy question: Why is Mattis’s resignation letter below considered a primary source? Why is this NewsHour article considered a secondary source?

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