President Donald Trump dropped the news of his latest administration ouster in the form of a tweet this week.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has been fired, the president confirmed, following several notable instances in which the two differed on key policy issues.
“Pleased to announce”
In response to his departure, which comes even as last week’s election results remain contested by the Trump administration, current National Counterterrorism Center Director Christopher C. Miller is set to serve as Defense secretary on an acting basis.
Esper’s time in the role lasted longer than many expected since he broke with Trump over the enactment of the Insurrection Act to disperse protesters earlier this year.
Nevertheless, news of his departure comes at a precarious time in the wake of Democratic Party officials and mainstream media outlets calling the race for Trump’s rival, Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
The president’s decision to finally fire Esper in the final two months of his first term also came with an expression of confidence in the outgoing secretary’s replacement.
“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. “Chris will do a GREAT job! Mark Esper has been terminated. I would like to thank him for his service.”
“Not in one of those situations”
While some pundits have questioned his decision to fire Esper with the clock winding down on this term, others are wondering why he waited so long for a move that was largely seen as inevitable.
The secretary has reportedly been on the chopping block since at least the summer, at which time he made it clear where he stood on the issue of directing active U.S. troops to restore the peace on the streets of America.
“The option to use active-duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort and only in the most urgent and dire of situations,” Esper said in June. “We are not in one of those situations now.”
He went on to make his stance unmistakable: “I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.”
As much as his detractors might wish it were not so, Trump remains the commander in chief — and has every right to hire and fire his cabinet officials as he sees fit.