President Donald Trump announced Monday that he fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper, a stunning move that comes days after Joe Biden was projected to have won the presidential race and after reports Trump has long been angry with Esper.
“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,” Trump tweeted, announcing his first personnel move since losing the presidential election.
He added, “Chris will do a GREAT job! Mark Esper has been terminated. I would like to thank him for his service.”
…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
The move raises questions about the military chain of command during a fraught time in the United States.
Esper has been working with Congress recently to strip Confederate names from military bases, which Trump opposes.
The Pentagon last week pushed back on reports speculating about Esper’s fate, with chief spokesman Jonathan Hoffman saying that Esper “has no plans to resign, nor has he been asked to submit a letter of resignation.”
Defense Secretary Mark Esper is out per President @realDonaldTrump – 3 days ago, @ChiefPentSpox said the NBC story on Esper preparing a resignation letter was inaccurate and misleading. Hoffman did not address what the NBC story actually said. https://t.co/6OlonewC4r pic.twitter.com/4cpofQl46I
— James LaPorta (@JimLaPorta) November 9, 2020