Just two days after losing the US election, Donald Trump announced the firing of Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
President Donald Trump announced on Twitter on Monday that he has fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper and that Christopher Miller, who serves as director of the National Counterterrorism Center, will become acting secretary “effective immediately.”
The president ruled out Esper two days after his Democratic opponent Joe Biden was projected as the winner of the presidential election, a conclusion Trump has refused to accept.
Trump and Mark Esper’s relationship was strained
It was reported to La Verdad Noticias that Esper’s increasingly strained relationship with Trump led him to prepare a resignation letter weeks ago, an attempt to shape a graceful exit in the widely-anticipated event that the president decided to fire him, they said. several advocacy sources, including a senior defense official, told CNN.
Esper had been on shaky ground with the White House for months, a rift that deepened after he said in June that he did not support the use of active duty troops to quell large-scale protests in the United States sparked by George’s death. Floyd at the hands of the police. Esper also said that military forces should be used in a law enforcement role only as a last resort.
His comments from the Pentagon meeting room were seen by many as an effort to distance himself from Trump’s threats to deploy the military to enforce order on the streets of American cities and were not well received in the White House, they said. several people familiar with the matter.
According to various administration officials, the White House sentiment about Esper had been souring for some time, and both Donald Trump and national security adviser Robert O’Brien viewed him as “not fully committed” to the president’s vision. for the army.
For months, Trump and O’Brien had been frustrated by Esper’s tendency to avoid offering a full defense of the president or his policies, administration officials said.
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
An administration source told CNN that Trump did not respect Esper, leaving the Defense Secretary with little influence and few options other than taking the lead from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Trump even mocked his defense chief’s mocking nickname “Yesper” during a press conference in August, a nickname given to Esper by defense officials who believed he didn’t go far enough to tackle the most controversial decisions of the president.
Privately, Trump had voiced his frustrations about Mark Esper for months, venting extensively on him during a trip to Camp David earlier this year, according to multiple sources.
Trump also publicly criticized Pentagon leaders in September, accusing them of seeking wars to increase profits for defense contractors. An angry Esper called White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to complain, according to defense officials. Soon after, Meadows appeared on television and tried to retract Trump’s comments, saying his barrage against Pentagon leaders had not been directed at anyone in particular.
Esper and Trump also disagreed on the highly charged issue of whether to rename military bases that honor Confederate generals. Esper supported the consideration of the name change. The president refused to accept the idea.
The Senate voted 90-8 in July 2019 to confirm Esper, making him the second Secretary of Defense confirmed by Trump’s Senate. He followed James Mattis, who had resigned in December 2018 over Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria amid fighting with ISIS, abandoning Kurdish allies and pulling US troops out of the war-torn country.