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Attacks against president now coming from his own supporters

 

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US President Donald Trump. Photo: Reuters

US President Donald Trump. Photo: Reuters

US President Donald Trump. Photo: Reuters

Even by the standards of the Trump administration, it was an extraordinary 48 hours, culminating in the resignation of Jim Mattis.

The consensus is that the departure of the defence secretary is a disaster, depriving the administration of one of the few grown-ups in the room.

If that were not enough, Trump has fallen out with two of his most vociferous cheerleaders, Senator Lindsey Graham and ultra-conservative firebrand columnist Ann Coulter. Graham described the president's decision to pull out of Syria as a "stain on the honour of the US".

Coulter rounded on him for failing to build his long-promised wall on the southern border.

"Either Trump never intended to build the wall and was scamming voters all along, or he has no idea how to get it done and zero interest in finding out," she wrote.

Given the fractious relationship the president has had with many of his appointees, perhaps one should not be completely surprised that Mattis had enough. He saw how Trump had used Jeff Sessions as a punching bag, before putting his long-suffering attorney general out of his misery just after the mid-terms.

Rumours had been circulating that Mattis was on the way out for some time and Trump's interview with '60 Minutes' in October reinforced that belief. "I think he's sort of a Democrat, if you want to know the truth," he said.

The president dismissed his defence secretary's unease with the administration's Nato policy. "Frankly, I like General Mattis," he added. "I think I know more about it than he does."

To put it mildly, this was a pretty insulting way to treat a retired four-star Marine general.

Mattis got his own back by flatly contradicting Trump's anodyne Twitter announcement that his defence secretary was "retiring".

Mattis made clear that there were fundamental differences in policy, from the decision to withdraw troops from Syria to Trump's confrontational relationship with America's Nato allies.

What should ring alarm bells is the reaction from senior Republicans. Florida Senator Marco Rubio warned the US was headed towards "a series of grave policy errors". There was similar unease in the House with Mike McCaul, the GOP chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, saying he "slept better" knowing Mattis was in charge of the US military.

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Given the uneasy relationship between Trump and the Republican establishment, the latest row once again raises the possibility he could face a challenge for the GOP nomination.

However, the Trump administration's revolving door seems to have done the president little harm among his core voters. (© Daily Telegraph London)

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