U.S. President Donald Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Monday, taking the count of officials holding position leaving office to two in less than two years.
In a tweet, Trump said he’s naming Christopher Miller, the Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, as acting Pentagon chief. “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. Chris will do a GREAT job! Mark Esper has been terminated. I would like to thank him for his service,” the tweet said.
Esper’s relationship with Trump soured after the defense secretary resisted the latter’s inclination to use active-duty troops to quell protests over racial injustice in the United States during the summer. The official also disagreed with Trump’s dismissive attitude toward the NATO alliance. Esper held the office for 1 year and 109 days.
Interestingly, the previous Defense Secretary, Jim Mattis, also denounced the president for dividing the nation, and accused him of ordering the U.S. military to violate the constitutional rights of American citizens.
Mattis had resigned from the post in December 2018 to protest Trump’s Syria policy. His tenure lasted just 20 days short of completing two years.
“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us,” Mattis said in a statement published in The Atlantic this June.
There have been three Acting Secretaries of Defense after Mattis quit and before Esper was terminated- Patrick M. Shanahan (173 days), Mark Esper (21 days), and Richard V. Spencer (8 days).