Yesterday, President Trump demanded that Secretary of Defense Mark Esper hand in his letter of resignation. Today, President Trump took another swing at that ossified hulk.
A day after Defense Secretary Mark Esper was fired by President Donald Trump and replaced by acting Secretary Christopher Miller, several top-ranking Pentagon officials have resigned and been replaced by Trump loyalists.
Stepping into the newly vacated job as the Pentagon’s top policy chief is Anthony Tata, a controversial retired Army general and Fox News analyst, whose nomination to that job was pulled earlier this year because of offensive tweets he had made about Islam and President Barack Obama.
“Today, Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Dr. James Anderson, Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security Mr. Joseph Kernan and Chief of Staff to the Secretary of Defense, Jen Stewart submitted letters of resignation,” said a Pentagon statement issued Tuesday afternoon.
“Dr. Anderson submitted his letter of resignation to the President this morning, effective today,” the statement continued. “The Acting Secretary of Defense has delegated the responsibilities of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy to Mr. Anthony Tata. As such, Mr. Tata is the Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. ”
Stewart’s replacement as the chief of staff to the Defense Secretary is Kash Patel, who had been serving as a top official at the National Security Council.
Tata’s elevation to the top policy job at the Pentagon caused consternation among Pentagon officials who are wary of his controversial reputation.
He will now succeed Anderson who took over the job after Tata withdrew his nomination when it became clear that he would not get Senate confirmation because of controversial tweets he had made in 2018. In those tweets Tata labeled Islam the “most oppressive religion I know of” and referred to former President Obama as a Muslim and described him as a “terrorist leader”.
As the new chief of staff, Patel will hold one of the most powerful positions at the Pentagon managing access to the secretary of defense and being involved in the preparation of all Pentagon decisions.
Prior to working at the White House Patel served as a top aide to Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., on the House Intelligence Committee and played tried to discredit investigations involving the Trump campaign and Russia and Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Cohen-Watnick has held several jobs in the Trump administration including a stint as a key aide to Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser. He later moved to the Justice Department as an aide to former Attorney General Jeff Sessions before moving to the Pentagon.
So the SecDef, the policy chief, the chief of intelligence, and the SecDef’s chief of staff were all replaced in a 24-hour period.
There is a lot of speculation on the reasoning. Some of it stupid, like the idea that Trump is preparing a military coup. What rings true is that this is linked to a long-stated goal of President Trump of bringing US combat forces home from Afghanistan by Christmas. It is also well-known that Defense is perfectly happy with the two-decade-old purposeless war in that godforsaken country and want to keep it going as a justification for resources and has been sandbagging every attempt by the President to draw down troop strength there.
Punting Esper and his inner circle and replacing them with people who understand that the President, not assorted Pentagon bureaucrats, makes national policy. What this move will do is bake in a key Trump promise no matter the outcome of the current fight over election results.