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  • Secretary of Defense Mark Esper (R) delivers remarks on the COVID-19 pandemic as U.S. President Donald J. Trump looks on in the White House. Washington, DC, USA. March 18, 2020.

    Secretary of Defense Mark Esper (R) delivers remarks on the COVID-19 pandemic as U.S. President Donald J. Trump looks on in the White House. Washington, DC, USA. March 18, 2020. | Photo: EFE/EPA/POOL/Kevin Dietsch

Published 9 November 2020
Opinion

Both the president and National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien did not see him as fully committed to Trump's military vision.

Esper was among those who might be fired after opposing the deployment of the army to quell the protests over George Floyd's murder this past May.

U.S. President Donald Trump announced Monday the "immediate" dismissal of Defense Secretary and Pentagon chief Mark Esper, in the midst of a transition after his defeat in the U.S. elections.

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Through his Twitter account, the U.S. president said that "Mark Esper has been fired. I am pleased to announce that Christopher C. Miller, the highly respected director of the National Counterterrorism Center (unanimously confirmed by the Senate), will become acting Secretary of Defense immediately. Chris will do a great job."

Mark Esper's name was on the list of potential firings by Trump since his opposition to the Army's deployment to quell the riots in several cities around the country this summer after the death in police custody of the African-American man, George Floyd.

At a press conference in June, Esper said that the use of active troops in the role of law enforcement was not an option; "it should only be used as a last resort, and only in the most urgent and extreme situations. We are not in one of those situations now."

Since then, his comments from the Pentagon have been seen by many as an effort to distance themselves from Trump's threats. Both the president and National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien did not see him as fully committed to Donald Trump's vision for the military.

Trained at the West Point military academy and with experience in both government and the private sector, Esper was appointed by Trump to head the Pentagon in June 2019. According to official White House sources, Esper had been preparing for his departure for some time, especially if Trump managed to re-validate his term. 

Meanwhile, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson has tested positive for COVID-19, the latest in a string of high-profile White House officials who have contracted the virus.

ABC News, which first broke the news, reported Monday that Carson has mild symptoms yet was in good spirits despite his diagnosis.

Carson, the sole Black person to serve thus far in Trump's cabinet, and who ran an unsuccessful campaign for President in 2016, attended a White House gathering on election night last week, where dozens of guests mingled and few wore masks or observed social distancing.

Several White House staff members, including chief of staff Mark Meadows, have since tested positive for the virus as well. 

 
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