President Donald Trump on Monday announced by tweet that he had fired his defence secretary Mark Esper, further destabilizing a government already navigating Trump’s refusal to concede election defeat to Democrat Joe Biden.
“Mark Esper has been terminated. I would like to thank him for his service,” Trump said on Twitter, announcing his replacement by Christopher Miller, the current head of the National Counterterrorism Center.
Mark Esper who had clashed with Trump over his suggestion of using military personnel to quash civic unrest had prepared a letter of resignation, according to three current defence officials.
Although it’s not uncommon for cabinet secretaries to prepare undated letters of resignation during a presidential transition, the president decides whether to accept the resignation letters, and the process usually occurs after the election results are clear giving the commander in chief the chance to replace them for a second term.
But defence officials say Esper prepared his letter expecting to be one of the Cabinet officials long expected to be pushed out after the election.
Trump, who is pursuing so far flimsy claims of election fraud in the courts, has only until January 20 before he has to leave the office and Biden takes over.