Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper was fired by President Donald Trump on Monday, the latest casualty in the president’s revolving door of top national security officials who fell on the wrong side of their boss.
Trump announced the decision on Twitter, saying in an abrupt post that Esper had been “terminated.”
Trump wrote on Twitter that he was appointing Christopher C. Miller, described by the president as the “highly respected” director of the National Counterterrorism Center, to be acting defense secretary. He will be the fourth man to lead the Pentagon under Trump, who made a point of noting that Miller has been approved by the Senate already.
Miller is a former Army Green Beret who previously served as the top counterterrorism policy official in the Trump White House’s National Security Council.
Esper’s downfall had been expected for months, after he took the rare step in June of disagreeing publicly with Trump and saying that active-duty military troops should not be sent to control the wave of protests in U.S. cities. The president, who had threatened to use the Insurrection Act to do exactly that, was furious, officials said.Trump has referred to Esper as “Mr. Yesper.” But the insult is ironic by itself, because it was the defense secretary’s public break with the president during a news conference in June in which he spoke against use of active-duty American troops to quell civil unrest that infuriated Trump to begin with. Those comments came after he had accompanied Trump on his walk across Lafayette Square outside the White House, where protesters had just been tear-gassed, prompting condemnation from former military and civilian Defense Department officials.