US President Donald Trump has announced that he is replacing Mark Esper with Director of the National Counterterrorism Centre Christopher C. Miller, who will become the acting secretary of defence. POTUS also thanked Esper for his service.
...Chris will do a GREAT job! Mark Esper has been terminated. I would like to thank him for his service.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 9, 2020
Hours after Trump announced the move, a letter written by Esper to the commander-in-chief surfaced online. It stated that the now former US defense official accepted the decision and that he has "never been prouder to serve my country than as a soldier or civilian in the Department of Defense."
Fox News obtains letter from Esper to President pic.twitter.com/uPgb4thqAZ— Jennifer Griffin (@JenGriffinFNC) November 9, 2020
Conflicting Reports About Esper's Departure
Trump's decision comes following continued speculation in the media about Esper's potential departure from the White House amid POTUS' projected defeat in the presidential race. The Hill reported on 6 November, citing anonymous sources, that Esper might be among the administration members that Trump would fire regardless of the outcome of the election, or that he might even file for resignation himself.
A conflicting report from Politico on 7 November, also citing anonymous sources, suggested instead that Esper would stay on in the Trump administration. Two prominent Republican senators, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Jim Inhofe, urged POTUS "to not shake things up" and keep Esper in his office. Esper's spokesperson, in turn, dismissed the rumours that the secretary of defence might file for resignation himself, calling them untrue.
Christopher C. Miller has served most of his life in the US military, ending his service as a Green Beret in 2014. Trump nominated him for the post of director of the National Counterterrorism Centre in May 2020 and Miller was successfully vetted by the Congress in August, replacing acting Director Lora Shiao.