One group of Washington operatives not sorry to see Defense Secretary James Mattis leave is the Trump supporters who feel locked out of Pentagon jobs. Insiders say Mr. Mattis’s chief of staff, retired Navy Rear Adm. Kevin M. Sweeney, preached a “non-political” Defense Department. They translated his edict as meaning that Trump campaign people and Republicans on Capitol Hill would have limited access to 160 plum, high-paying appointments.
Mr. Mattis gave Mr. Sweeney wide authority over personnel matters, sources said. Mr. Sweeney’s official Pentagon biography states: “He is responsible for providing counsel and advice to the Secretary on all matters concerning the Department.” Said a former Trump campaign adviser: “General Mattis was briefing Hillary during the 2016 campaign and only became a Trump supporter after the election. He then worked hard to keep Trump campaign advisers and surrogates out of the Pentagon while undermining Trump policies all along.