President-elect Donald Trump kicked off his post-election “Thank You” tour Thursday by announcing that he would nominate retired Marine Gen. James Mattis as secretary of defense.
At a rally in Cincinnati, Trump described Mattis as “one of our great, great generals” and added that a formal announcement would be made Monday, “so don’t tell anybody.”
“They say he’s the closest thing to Gen. George Patton that we have,” Trump told the crowd, “and it’s about time. It’s about time.”
A source close to Trump told Fox News that the president-elect’s decision to divulge the Mattis pick at the rally was a surprise. Transition sources had repeatedly described Mattis as the favorite for the defense secretary position, but stressed the choice had not been formally made. Just prior to Thursday night’s event, Trump himself played down the possibility that any announcement was imminent.
The 66-year-old Mattis, known by his nickname, “Mad Dog,” retired from the military in 2013 after serving as the commander of the U.S. Central Command. His appointment to run the Pentagon would require a waiver from Congress, since federal law requires military personnel to be retired for seven years before taking a civilian position in the in the Department of Defense.
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