A few possible replacements for outgoing Defense Secretary Jim Mattis

The ongoing game of musical chairs at the White House completed another turn Thursday as Defense Secretary Jim Mattis tendered his resignation, citing foreign policy beliefs at odds with President Trump’s agenda.

“Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position,” the 68-year-old military chief wrote in his resignation letter.

Just days after finally finding a short-term replacement chief of staff in Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney, Trump must now fill another hole in his administration.

While the hiring process seems to take longer with each new opening, a few likely contenders for Defense Secretary are already waiting.

John Bolton

Bolton, the current National Security Adviser, seemed like a clear frontrunner for the gig, especially as his hawkish tendencies drew the President to his side more often than not, but the former UN ambassador sided with Mattis in disapproval of Trump’s decision to pull out of Syria.

With Mattis out, regardless of who replaces him, Bolton is likely to gain more power within the White House.

David Petraeus

An ugly past hasn’t stopped a Trump hire before, but Petraeus’ background might just be a step too far.

The former CIA director resigned in 2012 and pleaded guilty to mishandling classified information after he leaked to his biographer and mistress, Paula Broadwell.

Before that, Petraeus spent 37 years in the Army, overseeing U.S. Central Command and all coalition forces in Iraq.

He was on the shortlist for Secretary of State before Rex Tillerson was selected, receiving support from Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham and Democrat Dianne Feinstein. Petraeus also told Politico late last year that he would consider working in the Trump administration under “a specific set of circumstances or...conditions.”

Tom Cotton

The junior senator from Arkansas has been on the shortlist for several White House positions, including Secretary of Defense before Mattis was hired.

Cotton, who currently serves on the Senate Committee on Armed Services, spent five years in the Army including combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.

An appointment for Cotton, though, would pull a close Trump ally out of the Senate, where the President still fights to find friends.

Jared Kushner

Sure, the President’s son-in-law doesn’t have any qualifications to lead the Department of Defense, but he wasn’t overly qualified for any of the other titles he’s taken on, including brokering peace in the Middle East.

Kushner thus far has escaped trouble over his contacts with Russia or friendship with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, but it’s difficult to imagine him garnering enough respect to command the troops.