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Esper out at DOD

Defense Secretary Mark Esper listens to a reporter question at an Aug 28, 2019 press conference - photo via video stream 

President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that he had fired his secretary of defense, with Christopher C. Miller, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), taking over on an acting basis.

Rumors of Mark Esper's ouster had been brewing for months, in part because of his statements opposing the use of the military to quell protests in U.S. cities that erupted over the summer after the police killing of George Floyd. Trump also took issue with Esper's support of a plan to rename military bases that honor Confederate generals.

NBC reported last week that Esper had drafted a resignation letter.

The designation of Miller, already confirmed by the Senate in his current role, sidesteps DOD's number 2 official David Norquist, the deputy secretary. Miller was confirmed to the NCTC post in August. He's also served the Trump administration as special assistant to the president and senior director for counterterrorism and transnational threats on the National Security Council.

The move is the first major exercise of presidential power by Trump since losing the election to challenger Joe Biden. Trump has not conceded in the race, which was called by the Associated Press and the major television networks, and is challenging the legitimacy of the result.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy, health IT and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mr. Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian started his career as an arts reporter and critic, and has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, Architect magazine, and other publications. He was an editorial assistant and staff writer at the now-defunct New York Press and arts editor at the About.com online network in the 1990s, and was a weekly contributor of music and film reviews to the Washington Times from 2007 to 2014.

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