Diverting $3.6 billion from military construction projects to fortify a southern border wall allows the U.S. to better deploy troops to curb illegal immigration, Defense Secretary Mark Esper says.

The plan, which siphons $77 million from four projects in Hampton Roads, drew strong protests from Democratic lawmakers. They say President Donald Trump is promoting his political agenda at the military's expense, that the wall is ineffective and that the move will hurt morale.

Esper defended the shift of funds. Once construction is complete, the Defense Department can redeploy personnel to "other high-traffic areas on the border without barriers. In short, these barriers will allow DoD to provide support to DHS (Department of Homeland Security) more efficiently and effectively," he wrote in a memo.

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Dana White (DoD photo / Master Sgt. Angelita M. Lawrence)

Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis famously did his own laundry in the Pentagon's basement. His top spokeswoman, meanwhile, was so busy not conducting any press briefings that she had her staff pick up her dry cleaning, lunches and snacks, and schedule personal services, according to a new Pentagon Inspector General report.

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The Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert L. Wilkie on Nov. 11, 2018. (DoD/Lisa Ferdinando)

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie is reportedly pushing an "internal campaign" to be the next secretary of defense, the Washington Post reported.

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