President Donald Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Nov. 9, and appointed Christopher Miller, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, to lead the Pentagon as acting secretary.
“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 wrote in a Twitter post. “Chris will do a GREAT job! Mark Esper has been terminated. I would like to thank him for his service.”
The president didn’t provide a reason why Esper was fired. He was appointed by Trump in 2019 before he was nearly unanimously approved by the Senate in a 90–8 vote.
“In this position, Mr. Miller was responsible for strategic-level policy making and implementation, and support to senior NSC and White House leadership.”
Last week, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told news outlets that amid rumors and unconfirmed reports of Esper’s ouster or resignation, Esper had no plans to resign.
“He continues to serve the nation as the secretary of Defense at the pleasure of the president and is working on the irreversible implementation of the National Defense Strategy,” Hoffman said at the time. “The speculation about potential resignations of Cabinet officials is a tiresome, well-worn, DC-insider, post-election parlor game.”
Some members of Congress had called on Trump to retain Esper.
Esper replaced James Mattis, who resigned after disagreeing with the Trump administration’s move to withdraw troops from Syria. Esper, 56, had been serving as Army secretary when Trump picked him in July 2019.