Defense Secretary Mark Esper has prepared a resignation letter in anticipation of being ousted by President Trump after the election, according to a report.
Esper has a rocky relationship with Trump. He openly resisted Trump’s consideration of using active-duty troops to quell June riots. He’s also at odds with Trump on renaming military bases that honor Confederate leaders.
NBC News reports that Esper drafted the letter but did not say when he intends to submit it. It’s unclear if he intends to do so if Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden defeats Trump. Many swing states are still counting ballots.
Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman downplayed the reporting, telling the outlet that “speculation about potential resignations of Cabinet officials is a well-worn, D.C.-insider, post-election parlor game.”
Trump’s displeasure with Esper has been apparent for months.
“Mark ‘Yesper’? Did you call him ‘Yesper’?” Trump told a reporter at an August news conference when asked if he had confidence in Esper. “Some people call him ‘Yesper.’”
Trump said, “I consider firing everybody. At some point — at some point, that’s what happens.”
In September, Trump took another apparent shot at Esper, who is a former executive at weapons manufacturer Raytheon. Trump said, “The top people in the Pentagon probably aren’t [happy] because they want to do nothing but fight wars so all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy.”
Trump routinely says the “military-industrial complex” disfavors his policy of withdrawing the US from “endless” wars.
“I think 19 years in Afghanistan is enough, wouldn’t you say?” Trump said at one of his final re-election rallies. “You think it’s easy getting out, with all the military-industrial complex?”
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