- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 13, 2020

President Trump is reportedly considering replacing his defense chief following the upcoming election.

The president has grown frustrated that Defense Secretary Mark Esper has failed to defend him publicly on policy issues such as reports that Russia offered bounties to the Taliban to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan, Bloomberg reported, citing officials familiar with Mr. Trump’s thinking.

Mr. Esper, who has served as secretary since July 2019, has also pushed back on Mr. Trump’s suggestion to deploy active duty service members to quell nationwide anti-racism protests in June and called the idea a “matter of last resort.” Mr. Esper was joined by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley in opposing the suggestion.

At the White House, the head of presidential personnel is working on gathering a list of potential replacements, but spokesperson Judd Deere told the publication that it has “no personnel announcements at this time nor would it be appropriate to speculate about changes after the election or in a 2nd term.”

Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman said that Mr. Esper “first swore an oath to the Constitution as a West Point cadet over 38 years ago, and has done so many times throughout his adult life, in both war and peace, in uniform and out of uniform.”

“He continues that same commitment to duty, honor, and country today, recognizing that he serves the Nation and leads the men and women of this Department as Secretary of Defense at the pleasure of the president,” Mr. Hoffman said, adding that it is Mr. Esper’s “highest honor and privilege” to serve.

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