The outgoing US President Donald Trump sacked Defense Secretary Mark Esper shortly after the lost election. In a harsh phrase, the US President announced on Twitter: “Mark Esper has been fired”, but thanked him for his service.
Shortly after Trump posted his tweet, Esper reported an interview with the Military Times magazine that may have contributed to his sacking. Esper speculated that he was fired for telling Trump the truth and not speaking by mouth.
He issued a warning: “Who will be my successor? It will be a total ‘yes-man’. And then God help us.” The interview was conducted on November 4th, one day after the US election. At that point, Trump still had a real chance of winning the election.
Esper explains in the interview that he is expecting his resignation soon. According to his own statement, Esper did not want to declare his resignation out of responsibility to the soldiers. They couldn’t just quit their job either, he said.
Since the summer there has been a crisis between Trump and Esper
The Washington Post points out that Trump’s former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had already warned that Trump was dangerous. This is especially true now, after his election defeat. Many observers currently fear that Trump can still do a lot of damage in the remaining weeks of his term in office.
The office is to be taken over by Christopher Miller. Miller was previously director of the National Counter Terrorism Center. Rumors of Esper’s layoff had been around for months. However, such a step was expected in the aftermath of the election – especially in the event of a Trump victory.
Since the summer there has been tension between the president and the defense minister. The background was protests against racism and police violence after the death of the African American George Floyd.
Trump presented himself as a hardliner and threatened to end the unrest in the country with military force if necessary. To do this, he would have had to activate the “Insurrection Act” of 1807, which allows the US President to deploy the US military domestically under certain circumstances.
Esper had spoken out against the use of the US military to stop the unrest and had clearly distanced himself from Trump. He described such a step as a “last resort” that should only be used in “the most urgent and worst situations”. The fact that the incumbent Pentagon boss is so publicly at a distance from the country’s commander in chief is highly unusual and obviously did not go down well with Trump.
Dispute Confederate flag
US media reported at the time, citing Trump’s environment that he had already raised the question of a replacement.
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There were also disagreements about how to deal with, among other things, the Confederate flag, which was the focus of the racism debate in the USA. Esper had ordered that the flag be banned from military installations. However, he avoided an open confrontation with Trump by renouncing an express ban on the flag.
NBC had already reported on Thursday that Esper had prepared a resignation because it had long been expected that he would be fired after the election. Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman had rejected the report, saying that the minister had no plans to resign and had not been asked to resign.
Rumors of the possible firing of Esper and other government officials in the wake of the election persisted to the last. The news platform “Axios” reported at the end of October that Trump wanted to fire the chief of the FBI Federal Police, Christopher Wray, the director of the CIA foreign intelligence service, Gina Haspel, and Esper if he won the election.
Trump’s tenure was marked by layoffs and resignations within the government. Esper had succeeded James Mattis at the helm of the Pentagon, who stepped down in December 2018 because of a disagreement with Trump. (Tsp, dpa)
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