Trump's top military official reportedly wants to quit no matter who wins the next election

ReutersDefence Secretary Esper and chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mark Milley hold a news conference at Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.
  • President Donald Trump has said privately that he would fire Defence Secretary Mark Esper and replace him following the 2020 US presidential election, according to Bloomberg News.
  • According to multiple news reports in recent weeks, Trump has been incensed by Esper.
  • Esper has also privately expressed interest in leaving the administration after the election if Trump wins, one person said to Bloomberg.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump privately said he would fire Defence Secretary Mark Esper and replace him following the 2020 US presidential election, according to Bloomberg News.

According to multiple news reports in recent weeks, Trump has been incensed by Esper, who was confirmed by the Senate in 2019. Trump was frustrated that the defence secretary did not back him up on major national-security developments, including the Russian bounty scandal, according to Bloomberg.

Esper’s decisions this year have often been counter to the commander-in-chief wishes. In June, he said he did not agree with using active-duty service members to curb nationwide protests in response to the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed by police. That sentiment conflicted with Trump, who repeatedly threatened to deploy troops to American streets, rather than leaving the matter to state National Guard forces and police.

“I have always believed and continue to believe that the National Guard is best suited for performing domestic support to civil authorities in these situations in support of local law enforcement,” Esper said on June 9.

“The option to use active-duty forces in a law-enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort and only in the most urgent and dire of situations,” he said. “We are not in one of those situations now.”

In a statement to Bloomberg, the Pentagon said Esper’s “highest honour and privilege” was “to serve the Nation in defence of our great country.”

“He 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,” the statement added. “He continues that same commitment to duty, honour, and country today, recognising that he serves the Nation and leads the men and women of this Department as Secretary of Defence at the pleasure of the president.”

Esper has also privately expressed interest in leaving the administration after the election, if the results are in Trump’s favour, one person told Bloomberg.

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