As President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign holds out hope for a second term while ballots are still being counted in multiple key swing states, it appears that some within his administration would likely not continue serving if he is ultimately declared the victor.
According to multiple officials cited by NBC News, Defense Secretary Mark Esper has prepared a resignation letter in anticipation of the next presidential term.
“Doesn’t mean Esper is resigning now”
Of course, Cabinet members often have such a letter ready to provide to an incoming or re-elected president, giving the new commander in chief an opportunity to decide whether to retain or replace the individual, according to NBC.
Esper’s case is nevertheless unique, however, since he has frequently expressed some level of disagreement with the Trump administration and has been rumored to be on the chopping block if the president wins a second term.
Among the notable examples of the apparent rift between Esper and Trump is the former’s call for military bases named after Confederate leaders to be renamed, as NBC reported. In recent days, the secretary has completed a plan to aid military officials in setting new parameters for naming military installations.
The two men have also reportedly butted heads about the controversial use of military troops in dispersing crowds of protesters earlier this year.
This doesn’t mean Esper is resigning now. Per our David Martin – every cabinet secretary has a letter of resignation ready to go, and it was clear after the Lafayette Park (including Trump holding a bible in front of church photo op) last June that Esper had prepared a letter. https://t.co/6F6oBJfY48
— Camilla Schick (@CamJourno) November 5, 2020
“Post-election parlor game”
For the agency’s part, however, sources are emphasizing the fact that there is nothing unusual about reports that Esper has drafted a letter of resignation.
“The speculation about potential resignations of Cabinet officials is a well-worn, D.C.-insider, post-election parlor game,” Defense Department spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman explained, according to NBC.
Hoffman went on to note that Esper “continues to serve the nation as the secretary of Defense at the pleasure of the president and is at the Pentagon today working on the irreversible implementation of the National Defense Strategy.”
As one of the unnamed officials quoted in the recent report claimed, though, Esper “prefers to be remembered as someone who was fired because he stood up to the president, rather than being remembered as ‘Yesper,'” a reference to the nickname the secretary received from some critics who found his behavior toward Trump to be too obsequious.
Of course, Esper is hardly the only prominent figure in Trump’s circle whose days are rumored to be numbered. On the eve of Election Day, he responded to his supporters’ calls to fire White House coronavirus task force adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci, advising: “Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election.”