In a May 2017 Pentagon briefing, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was flanked by perhaps the two most important U.S. officials coordinating the fight against the Islamic State.

One was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph F. Dunford.

The other one was Brett McGurk, a State Department official whom Mattis introduced as “President Trump’s special envoy” to the coalition.

McGurk was tasked with coordinating international efforts, from NATO allies to militia groups, in the effort against Islamic State militants in the region.

But in the midst of his resignation to protest Trump’s sudden decision to pull out about 2,000 troops from Syria, McGurk himself was somehow overlooked by Trump, according to the president.

“Brett McGurk, who I do not know, was appointed by President Obama in 2015,” Trump said Saturday on Twitter. “Was supposed to leave in February but he just resigned prior to leaving. Grandstander? The Fake News is making such a big deal about this nothing event!”

It is not clear whether Trump meant he never met McGurk or was otherwise unfamiliar with him. McGurk was scheduled to leave in February, making his instant resignation symbolic.

But Trump’s assertion raised questions about his awareness of or interest in the intricate policies surrounding one of his cornerstone campaign promises — the defeat of the Islamic State, in which McGurk played a central role in Washington, Baghdad and elsewhere.

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