Why Donald Trump's Pick for Secretary of Defense Is Problematic

December 2nd 2016

Danielle DeCourcey

President-elect Donald Trump made his pick for a secretary of defense, but there's a potential problem with the nomination. On Thursday, Trump announced 66-year-old retired Marine Gen. James Mattis as his choice for defense secretary, according to The Washington Post.


“We are going to appoint Mad Dog Mattis as our secretary of defense,” Trump reportedly said at a rally in Cincinnati.

Mattis served more than four decades in the U.S. Marine Corps, and he wants the U.S. to strengthen its influence in the Middle East.

“In terms of strengthening America’s global standing among European and Middle Eastern nations alike, the sense is that America has become somewhat irrelevant in the Middle East, and we certainly have the least influence in 40 years,” Mattis said in April, according to the Post.

A tweet by @nycsouthpaw explains why his appointment may present an issue: Mattis only retired from active duty in 2013:

Mattis would need to be confirmed by the Senate, and federal law says that "a person may not be appointed as Secretary of Defense within seven years after relief from active duty."

Federal law on secretary of defense appointments.

Congress would have to pass new legislation in order to legally confirm Mattis, and that's only happened one other time in American history, according to the Post. In 1950, congress granted an exception to World War II veteran Gen. George C. Marshall, who became secretary of defense under President Harry S. Truman.

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