Defense Secretary Mark Esper was fired in a tweet on Monday, as President Donald Trump went after a top aide, he blamed for not supporting him sufficiently. Several people had predicted that Esper would be fired.
“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, Chris will do a GREAT job! Mark Esper has been terminated. I would like to thank him for his service,” Trump tweeted.
Esper’s relationship with Trump soured after the Pentagon chief resisted Trump’s inclination to use active-duty forces to quell protests in U.S. cities earlier this year.
Esper’s departure could foreshadow a broader post-election purge of appointees who displeased the president. It also means Trump will have seen the departure of two confirmed defense secretaries in less than two years.
Although Esper, 56, had worked with the president on controversial priorities such as sending U.S. troops to the border with Mexico and drawing down forces in Germany, Afghanistan and Syria, the president voiced increasing dissatisfaction with his Pentagon chief in recent months.
According to a U.S. official, Esper had a resignation letter ready and that Esper was strongly considering resigning ahead of a possible firing.
Back on August 15, the president signaled fatigue with Esper, when he used a derogatory nickname for his defense chief meant to suggest he’s a yes-man. ’“Mark Yesper, did you call him Yesper” Trump said at the time. “Some people call him Yesper. I get along with him,” he added with a shrug.
When asked if he was considering firing Esper, the president replied, “I consider firing everybody. At some point that’s what happens.”