Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper speaks to reporters with the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Defense Ben Wallace, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., March 5, 2020. (DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)

Trump Fires SecDef Esper by Tweet, Gives Acting DoD Role to NCTC Director Miller

On the first workday since former Vice President Joe Biden was declared president-elect, President Trump tweet-fired the secretary of Defense.

“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 this afternoon. “Chris will do a GREAT job! Mark Esper has been terminated. I would like to thank him for his service.”

Esper retired from the U.S. Army in 2007 after spending 10 years on active duty and 11 years in the National Guard and Army Reserve. During the President George W. Bush administration, he served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Negotiations Policy at the Pentagon.

Before being nominated as the Secretary of the Army in 2017, Esper was the Vice President for Government Relations at the Raytheon Company. He served as Acting Secretary of Defense from June 24, 2019, to July 15, 2019, and was sworn in as the 27th Secretary of Defense July 23, 2019.

Miller was sworn in as the seventh director of the National Counterterrorism Center Aug. 10, 2020. He most recently served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Combating Terrorism. From 2018-2019, Miller served as the Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Counterterrorism and Transnational Threats at the National Security Council. He served in the military from 1983-2014.

In a Wednesday interview with the Military Times, Esper pushed back on criticism that he had been a “yes man” for Trump.

“My frustration is I sit here and say, ‘Hm, 18 Cabinet members. Who’s pushed back more than anybody?’ Name another Cabinet secretary that’s pushed back,” he said. “Have you seen me on a stage saying, ‘Under the exceptional leadership of blah-blah-blah, we have blah-blah-blah-blah?’”

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