President Donald Trump is having a tough time hiring a Pentagon chief after the abrupt departure of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis late last month.
Jon Kyl, the retired Arizona Republican senator, became the second person to wave off Trump’s overtures last week, telling the White House he is not interested in the job. Ret. Gen. Jack Keane also turned down the job shortly after Mattis’ resignation. (Keane, who frequently advises Trump, had refused the position once before, during the 2016 presidential transition.)
The refusals are particularly striking given that the top Pentagon job is historically among the Cabinet’s most prestigious and powerful, and coveted by national security veterans. But Mattis’ resignation — announced in a letter indicating that Trump had disregarded his advice on fundamental issues — has reinforced the image of a commander in chief unafraid to buck his top military advisers.
Both Kyl and Keane declined to comment.