WASHINGTON – Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld did not resign as a result of dramatic Republican losses in the U.S. Congress during last November's midterm election; it turns out he was ready to go ahead of the final tally.
Perhaps seeing the writing on the wall, Rumsfeld, who's largely faulted for mistakes and miscalculations relating to the Iraq war, signed his letter of resignation from the Bush administration the day before the Nov. 7 election, FOX News has confirmed.
His decision was not announced until a day after the voting. President Bush apparently didn't put his initials on the letter until Election Day, Reuters first reported Wednesday.
As civilian head of the military, Rumsfeld had alternately infuriated both Republicans and Democrats, and he was largely criticized for not stepping down ahead of the election, when the numbers started to look bad for Republicans.
In his defense, Rumsfeld has said on numerous occasions — including during the Abu Ghraib scandal — that he offered his resignation to the president, but the president didn't accept it.
In his departure, he praised the president for his leadership during the war.
"I leave with great respect for you and for the leadership you have provided during a most challenging time for our country. The focus, determination and perseverance you have so consistently provided have been needed and are impressive," Rumsfeld wrote in the resignation letter that also praised the troops.
"It is time to conclude my service. As I do, I want you to know that you have my continuing and heartfelt support as you enter the final two years of your presidency," Rumsfeld wrote.