Soon outgoing president Donald Trump fired the Secretary of Defense Mark Esper on Twitter Monday.
Presidents who win reelection often replace Cabinet members, including the secretary of defense, but losing presidents have kept their Pentagon chiefs in place until Inauguration Day to preserve stability in the name of national security.
Inside officials say that Esper has been prepared to step down for months, even writing a letter of resignation a few weeks ago.
Esper had been on shaky ground with the White House for months, a rift that deepened after he said in June that he did not support using active-duty troops to quell the large-scale protests across the United States triggered by the death of George Floyd at the hands of police. Esper also said military forces should be used in a law enforcement role only as a last resort.
The Senate voted 90-8 in July 2019 to confirm Esper, making him Trump’s second Senate-confirmed secretary of defense. He followed James Mattis, who had resigned in December 2018 over Trump’s decision to retreat from Syria amid the fight with ISIS, abandoning Kurdish allies and pulling US troops out of the war-torn country.
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