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Trump’s personnel head wanted to fire the defense secretary because he opposed Confederate flags on bases, vowed to be apolitical, ruled out attacking Iranian cultural sites, sought the perspectives of transgender soldiers, and 13 other reasons

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Then-Secretary of Defense Mark Esper speaks as then-President Donald Trump listens during a daily White House coronavirus press briefing on April 1, 2020.

Then-Secretary of Defense Mark Esper speaks as then-President Donald Trump listens during a daily White House coronavirus press briefing on April 1, 2020. Win McNamee/Getty Images

  • Trump administration personnel head John McEntee wrote a memo with 17 reasons why Mark Esper should be fired.

  • They include Esper’s pledge to be apolitical and his opposition to flying Confederate flags on bases.

  • Esper was “terminated” by Trump two days after the 2020 election was called by major news organizations.

The head of former President Donald Trump’s Presidential Personnel Office wrote a memo in late October 2020 outlining 17 reasons why Defense Secretary Mark Esper should be fired, including a pledge to be apolitical, his opposition to flying Confederate flags on military bases, and several other reasons.

The memo was revealed on Twitter by ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl, author of the forthcoming book “Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show,” an excerpt of which was published in The Atlantic on Tuesday.

The bulleted document called for Esper to be fired the day after the Nov. 3 election, replaced temporarily by National Counterterrorism Center Director Chris Miller, and then replaced by “a capable Secretary of Defense, such as Robert O’Brien.”

A version of that did happen, with Esper “terminated” and replaced with Miller on Nov. 9, two days after most networks and news organizations had called the 2020 election for Joe Biden.

Among the memo’s reasons for recommending Esper’s firing are several eyebrow-raising points, including Esper’s vow to be apolitical like his predecessor Jim Mattis and his “policy that bars the display of the Confederate flag on military installation [sic].”

McEntee also appears to take issue with Esper ruling out attacking cultural sites in Iran “if the conflict escalated” – a potential violation of the laws of war – and that he had “expressed disinterest in supporting the President’s transgender ban.”

“He stated the issue ‘hasn’t really come up’ and had found the perspectives of ‘six or seven’ active-duty transgender soldiers’ perspectives ‘helpful’ as he thought through the issue,” the memo read, disapprovingly.

The memo also highlights the fact that Esper had earned the nickname “Yesper” and was opposed to Trump invoking the Insurrection Act to deploy combat troops to US cities during racial justice protests in June 2020.

Some of the reasons are more pedestrian, including complaints that Esper “failed to exercise oversight of the Joint Staff.”

According to the excerpt, the memo was one of a series that identified dozens of defense officials that had purportedly crossed Trump and needed to be fired. They were written with the help of Josh Whitehouse, a Trump supporter from New Hampshire who was just 25-years-old at the time of he was hired to act as a liaison to federal agencies.

Whitehouse reportedly said he was “going to the Pentagon to fire [Defense Secretary Mark] Esper and those deep-state bastards!” when he was assigned to represent the White House at the Pentagon.

McEntee, himself just 29 when he wrote the memos, was fired and escorted out of the building in March 2018 by then-chief of staff John Kelly after a background check revealed that he “deposited suspiciously large sums of money into his bank account” that came as the result of gambling winnings. He was later re-hired and elevated to the personnel position in January 2020.

McEntee focused on perceived loyalty to Trump during his tenure as the White House’s chief personnel officer, which resulted in things like a phone call in the middle of a confirmation hearing about a low-level staffer liking a Taylor Swift Instagram post that praised Joe Biden.

McEntee did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider



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