Defense Secretary Mark Esper 'Terminated,' Trump Says
In a pair of tweets, Trump announced that Christopher Miller, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, will serve as acting defense secretary.
“Mark Esper has been terminated,” the president tweeted. “I would like to thank him for his service.”
NBC News reported last week that Esper had prepared a resignation letter before the presidential election results were final because he was one of the Cabinet members expected to be ousted should Trump win.
A Defense Department spokesman denied that report, tweeting last week that “Esper has no plans to resign, nor has he been asked to submit a letter of resignation.”
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 the president on several occasions. In June, Esper called it “a mistake” to have accompanied the president days earlier in his infamous photo-op walk to 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.