Defense Secretary Mark Esper 'Terminated,' Trump Says

“AP Photo/Alex Brandon Defense Secretary Mark Esper speaks during a May 15 press briefing about the coronavirus in the Rose Garden of the White House. President Donald Trump on Monday said he fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper following months of rumors that Trump was unhappy with his performance. I am pleased to announce that Christopher C. Miller, the highly respected Director of the National Counterterrorism Center (unanimously confirmed by the Senate), will be Acting Secretary of Defense, effective immediately..— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 9, 2020 …Chris will do a GREAT job! Mark Esper has been terminated. I would like to thank him for his service.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 9, 2020 Esper had prepared a resignation letter before the election results were final because he was one of the Cabinet members expected to be ousted should Trump win, NBC News reported last week, citing three current defense officials. Trump has reportedly been unhappy with Esper’s performance for months. NBC News reported in September that White House officials approached Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie about potentially taking the top spot at the Pentagon should Trump decide to fire Esper. Esper, who has headed the Defense Department since June 2019, has broken with Trump on several occasions. In June, Esper called it “a mistake” to have accompanied the president days earlier in his infamous photo op in front of a church near the White House amid anti-racism protests. He also defied Trump’s threat to use active-duty troops to quell the nationwide protests. A month later, Esper reportedly drew Trump’s ire by effectively barring Confederate flags on military bases. Esper previously served as secretary of the Army for roughly two years. This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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