President Donald Trump fired Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and has put Christopher Miller, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, in his place as acting secretary.
Mr. Trump made the announcement on Twitter early Monday afternoon just two days after his Democratic opponent Joe Biden was projected to win the presidential race, something the President has refused to acknowledge.
Esper’s souring relationship with Mr. Trump started back over the summer when he distanced himself from the President following that now infamous photo op that resulted in protesters being tear-gassed. Esper also hit back against Mr. Trump’s wishes to using active-duty troops to settle the unrest in cities following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police.
“I say this not only as secretary of Defense, but also as a former soldier and a former member of the National Guard, the option to use active-duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort, and only in the most urgent and dire situations. We are not in one of those situations now,” Esper said at the time.
A visibility angry President Trump would then mock Esper’s name in a press conference weeks later, calling him “Yesper”. In September, Mr. Trump attacked the Pentagon leadership, accusing them of wanting wars for the profits of defense contractors.
Esper and Mr. Trump also butted heads on the issue of renaming military bases that honor Confederate generals. The President refused the idea but Esper would support it, leaving Mr. Trump upset and calling out Esper on Twitter.
The termination of Esper may be just the start as reports suggest Mr. Trump will be firing those who have not been loyal to him. He has been aggressive in his displeasure for FBI Director Christopher Wray and CIA Director Gina Haspel.
Miller spent 31 years in the U.S. Army and was sworn in as director of the National Counterterrorism Center in August. It is highly unlikely the Senate will confirm Miller before Mr. Trump leaves office in January.