Donald Trump Slams Jim Mattis on Afghanistan Record, Claims Resignation Was 'Essentially' A Firing

President Donald Trump slammed the record of former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Wednesday, claiming the Pentagon chief's abrupt resignation was "essentially" a firing.

Mattis stepped down as defense secretary last month over differences with Trump on a host of national security issues, particularly Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.

At a White House cabinet meeting Wednesday, Trump criticized Mattis' handling of the Afghanistan war, which he said was "not too good" despite additional funding and manpower commitments.

"What's he done for me? How has he done in Afghanistan? Not too good. Not too good. I'm not happy with what he's done in Afghanistan and I shouldn't be happy," Trump said, according to the New York Times.

Acrimony between Trump and prominent former military leaders has spilled into the open in the wake of Mattis' resignation. Former Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who commanded U.S. forces in Afghanistan from 2009 to 2010, called Trump "immoral" in an appearance on ABC News over the weekend, to which Trump responded that McChrystal had a "big, dumb mouth" and was a "Hillary [Clinton] lover."

Trump also went after the "failed generals" who oversaw American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, likely referring Gen. David Petraeus, a former CIA director under former President Barack Obama, and Adm. William McRaven, a Navy SEAL who oversaw the operation to kill Osama bin Laden. Both men have publicly criticized Trump's national security decisions and his temperament in recent weeks.

As for Mattis, he originally offered to remain in his post through February to pave the way for a new defense secretary and prepare for an upcoming NATO ministerial. But Trump, who was miffed by the media coverage Mattis' letter received, ordered him to leave to the Pentagon by Jan. 1.

Mattis, along with former chief of staff John Kelly and former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, was part of a trio of retired generals widely seen as the "adults in the room" who would constrain Trump and preserve the foreign policy status quo. On Wednesday, Trump downplayed Mattis' importance to his national security team and his administration more broadly.

"I wish him well. I hope he does well. But, as you know, President (Barack) Obama fired him and essentially so did I," Trump said. "I want results."

In fact, Mattis tendered his resignation in response to Trump's announcement that he would withdraw all 2,000 U.S. troops deployed to Syria within the next several months. The former Marine Corps general was one of several national security aides who had persuaded Trump that an ongoing military presence there was critical to defeating the Islamic State and other U.S. security interests.

But Trump, who has long been skeptical of open-ended military commitments in the Middle East, ultimately disregarded Mattis' counsel and opted for a drawdown of U.S. forces in Syria. He reiterated that position on Wednesday, saying the country was not worth spending further resources or putting U.S. troops at risk.

"We're talking about sand and death. We're not talking about vast wealth," Trump said. "We're talking about sand and death."