President Donald Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper. He announced on Twitter that he was appointing Christopher C. Miller, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, to serve as the acting Pentagon boss.
“Chris will do a GREAT job! Mark Esper has been terminated,” Trump tweeted. “I would like to thank him for his service.”
The move comes shortly after the media declared former Vice President Joe Biden the projected President-elect. With only 72 days left of a Trump administration, it is unlikely he will nominate a candidate to take the role permanently.
Miller will be the fourth acting Defense Secretary in the Trump administration. Patrick M. Shanahan served in the role for more than 170 days after Trump fired former Secretary James N. Mattis after Mattis announced his resignation. Esper served as the acting Defense Secretary in July 2019, before he was nominated to serve in the role permanently, and former Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer became acting Secretary for about eight days.
Esper, in a Nov. 9 “Final Message to the Department” wrote that he was “particularly proud” of the progress made in implementing the National Defense Strategy, modernizing the military, improving readiness, working with allies, and reforming the department, especially “in light of the challenges we faced along the way: a global pandemic; confrontation with Iran and its proxies throughout the Middle East; continued deployment of troops into conflict zones; domestic civil unrest; malign behavior globally by Russia and China; and a charged political atmosphere here at home.”
“Through thick and thin, however, we have always put people and country first,” he wrote.
In a separate Nov. 9 letter addressed to Trump, Esper writes that he serves “in deference to the Constitution, so I accept your decision to replace me. I step aside knowing there is much we achieved at the Defense Department over the last eighteen months to protect the nation and improve the readiness, capabilities, and professionalism of the joint force, while fundamentally transforming and preparing the military for the future.”
Before becoming Defense Secretary, Esper served as Secretary of the Army in the Trump administration.
Trump has publicly disparaged Esper, including referring to him in a speech by the nickname “Yesper” for a reputation of not disagreeing with White House policies. Esper had taken a low profile in recent months, only appearing in recorded speeches or think tank events focused on the National Defense Strategy. He has not appeared at a news conference since July.
– PTC News