WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump has privately discussed with advisers the possibility of replacing Defense Secretary Mark Esper after the November election in the wake of a number of differences between them, a source familiar with the internal debate said on Wednesday.
The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the two men were “not in a good place” but that Trump did not intend to move on Esper until voters have rendered their judgment on a second Trump term on Nov. 3.
Trump was troubled by Esper's opposition to invoking the Insurrection Act to deploy active-duty forces to quell civil unrest that broke out in June after the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis.
Esper also appeared to split with Trump last month by issuing a de facto ban on the Confederate flag at military installations, at a time when Trump was citing free speech rights in his defense of Americans who fly the Confederate flag.
“President Trump has assembled an incredible team at the White House and across the federal government who have accomplished undeniable successes on behalf of the American people. We have no personnel announcements at this time nor would it be appropriate to speculate about changes after the election or in a second term,” said White House spokesman Judd Deere.
The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. One U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, noted, however, that turnover in top positions is common at the end of a presidential term.