Trump announces withdrawal of troops from Syria

On December 19, 2018, President Donald Trump ordered all remaining U.S. troops to be withdrawn from Syria. The U.S. had been conducting direct combat operations in Syria since April 2017. Department of Defense officials said they expected the troop withdrawal to take no more than 30 days. In a video posted to Twitter, Trump said, “We have won against ISIS. Our boys, our young women, our men – they’re all coming back, and they’re coming back now.” According to The New York Times, this move was the catalyst for Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis’s retirement, which was announced Thursday night. Click here to read more about the conflict in Syria and the Trump administration. 

Democratic donor who backed Obama’s 2008 run announces pro-Booker super PAC

Democratic donor Steve Phillips announced the formation of the Dream United super PAC to support a possible presidential run by U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) Thursday. Phillips said he already had $4 million lined up to support Booker and expected to raise $10 million over the coming months. Phillips backed former President Barack Obama’s 2008 run in a similar fashion, with his groups spending $11 million on that campaign. 
While Booker said last month that he was considering running for president, three notable Democrats have taken formal steps towards a run. Former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro (D) formed an exploratory committee last week and West Virginia state Sen. Richard Ojeda (D) and U.S. Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) both declared their candidacies.
Nearly 440 candidates have already filed with the Federal Election Commission to run for president in 2020, including 131 Democrats, 59 Republicans, 18 Libertarians, and 10 Greens.
Ballotpedia is also tracking more than 60 possible Democratic and Republican presidential contenders.

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis to retire in Feb. 2019

Secretary of Defense James Mattis will retire at the end of February 2019, President Donald Trump announced in a tweet Thursday. Trump tweeted, “During Jim’s tenure, tremendous progress has been made, especially with respect to the purchase of new fighting equipment. General Mattis was a great help to me in getting allies and other countries to pay their share of military obligations. A new Secretary of Defense will be named shortly. I greatly thank Jim for his service!” 
Mattis, a former Marine Corps four-star general, became secretary of defense in January 2017 after the U.S. Senate confirmed him in a 98-1 vote. He was the first recently retired general to serve in the position since George C. Marshall in the early 1950s.

Minnesota Congressman Rick Nolan will not seek re-election in 2018

Congress Rick Nolan (D), who represents Minnesota 8th Congressional District, announced Friday that he will retire at the end of his current term and not seek re-election in 2018. Nolan was elected to his current seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012. Nolan was one of nine individuals elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012 who had prior congressional experience. He served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, from 1974 to 1980. Three candidates have filed to run in primaries for Nolan’s seat.

As of February 9, a total of 50 current representatives have announced that they will not seek re-election in 2018. Of those 50, 34 are Republicans and 16 are Democrats.