In his tweet, Trump sacks his defense minister, Mark Esper

The outgoing US President Donald Trump announced on Twitter today, Monday, that he was dismissed by Defense Secretary Mark Esper, so that Christopher Miller, who is director of the National Center for Combating Terrorism, becomes the Acting Defense Minister, "effective immediately 48 hours after his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, was declared the winner.

Several defense sources, including a senior defense official, told CNN that Esper's increasingly strained relationship with Trump led him to prepare a resignation letter weeks ago, in an effort to shape a brilliant exit in the widely anticipated event that the president decided to fire.

The tensions between Esper and Trump have also appeared in public and lasted long enough that the defense secretary prepared a resignation letter weeks ago, realizing that the president could fire him with a tweet at any time.

Esper had been in a tense relationship with the White House for months, a dispute that deepened after he said in June that he did not support the use of active duty forces to quell large-scale protests across the United States sparked by the police killing of George Floyd. Esper also said that military forces should be used in a law enforcement role only as a last resort.

His comments from the Pentagon briefing room were seen by many as an attempt to distance himself from Trump's threats to deploy the military to impose order on the streets of American cities, and went badly into the White House, according to several people familiar with the matter.

According to several administration officials, the White House's feelings about Esper have been tense for some time as both Trump and National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien deemed he was not fully committed to the president's vision for the military.

Administration officials said Trump and O'Brien had been frustrated for months at Esper's tendency to avoid making a violent defense of the president or his policies.

In secret, Trump has expressed frustration about Esper for several months and publicly criticized the Pentagon leadership last September, accusing them of seeking to fight wars in order to increase the profits of defense contractors.

The Senate had voted 90 to 8 in July 2019 to endorse Esper, making him the second US Senate-approved defense secretary in the Trump administration. He followed James Mattis, who resigned in December 2018 over Trump's decision to withdraw from Syria amid the fight with ISIS, and reportedly abandon the Kurdish allies.

 

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