The following is a POLITICO report:
President Donald Trump announced Monday that he had fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper, ousting one of his top Cabinet officials just days after losing his reelection bid.
In a pair of tweets, Trump wrote that Esper had “been terminated” and that he would be replaced by National Counterterrorism Center Director Christopher Miller, who will lead the Pentagon in an acting capacity. Miller also worked on counterterrorism at the Department of Defense and at the National Security Council, and is trusted by the president, according to a current and former defense official.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows informed Esper that he would be fired shortly before Trump’s tweet went out, a defense official told POLITICO.
The shake-up comes after reports that Esper had prepared a letter of resignation in recent days, and after lawmakers, former defense officials and military experts urged him to remain in his post to ensure a smooth presidential transition. On Saturday, POLITICO reported that top Senate leaders also pressed the White House to keep Esper in his position, but noted that Trump has a history of ignoring advice and firing his leaders by tweet.
Since the summer, Esper and Trump have clashed over a number of issues, especially the president’s threat to use active-duty troops to quash civil unrest.
Esper became defense secretary in July 2019, after Trump’s intended nominee for the job, then-acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan, withdrew from consideration amid personal issues involving his former wife and children. Trump’s first defense secretary, Jim Mattis, resigned in December 2018 over Trump’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria.
Esper spent most of his tenure as a bystander to the president’s most disruptive national security decisions, earning the reputation in some circles as a yes-man. But the Defense secretary increasingly pushed back on his boss over the course of the year, angering the president.
Read the full report in POLITICO.