ABC's Raddatz: 'Is the president planning a military operation?'

ABC chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz questioned whether President TrumpDonald TrumpVeteran accused in alleged border wall scheme faces new charges Arizona Republicans to brush off DOJ concern about election audit FEC drops investigation into Trump hush money payments MORE is "planning a military operation" amid a flurry of Pentagon resignations.

"No one has seen anything like this. There is concern about what this means," Raddatz told ABC's David Muir on "World News Tonight." "Is the president planning a military operation or the use of federal troops, which [Defense Secretary Mark] Esper opposed?"

The resignations came Tuesday from the Pentagon's top policy official James Anderson, the agency's top intelligence official Joseph Kernan and Jen Stewart, chief of staff to Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperCourt declines to dismiss Amazon challenge against JEDI decision Inspector general chose not to investigate Secret Service in clearing of Lafayette Square: report The paradox of US-India relations MORE before Trump fired Esper on Monday.


Raddatz echoed sentiments expressed by President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenAtlanta mayor won't run for reelection South Carolina governor to end pandemic unemployment benefits in June Airplane pollution set to soar with post-pandemic travel boom MORE, who has said Trump's refusal to concede "will not help the president's legacy."

She pointed toward other Republicans voicing support for Esper's role as Defense secretary despite Trump's removal of him on Monday.

"Even Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell: Taliban could take over Afghanistan by 'the end of the year' McConnell alma mater criticizes him for 1619 comments McConnell amid Trump criticism: 'I'm looking forward, not backward' MORE praised Esper today, and Republican John CornynJohn CornynTim Scott sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls Cornyn is most prolific tweeter in Congress so far in 2021 Schumer 'exploring' passing immigration unilaterally if talks unravel MORE, a member of the Senate GOP leadership, said of Trump's decision to fire Esper, 'I don't think it helps him and I don't think it helps the country.'"

Esper's firing by Trump also comes as the president has indicated to allies that FBI Director Christopher Wray and CIA Director Gina HaspelGina Cheri HaspelCIA chief threatened to resign over push to install Trump loyalist as deputy: report Biden announces veteran diplomat William Burns as nominee for CIA director Meet Biden's pick to lead the US intelligence community MORE stand as the next officials in line for removal. However, he has yet to take action.

Trump and some GOP congressional allies have eyed the FBI and CIA directors as uncooperative in pursuing unproven allegations that the Obama administration illegally spied on the president's campaign, also knocking Wray over the ongoing investigation into Biden's son Hunter Biden's past business ventures.


Experts in national security are concerned any further disruptions of administrative roles in the Department of Defense, FBI and CIA could create a problematic and disjointed transfer of power when Biden is slated to take the Oval Office on Jan. 20.

Max Stier, director of the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit and nonpartisan group that oversees the Center for Presidential Transition, told CNN the importance of a swift and stable transition of power from presidents post-inauguration, citing the White House race between George W. Bush and Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreHawaii legislature passes bill to implement automatic voter registration Libertarians elected Biden Gore believes China will 'overachieve' on emissions goal MORE in 2000.

"You look back to 9/11 and the 9/11 Commission. It was very clear, looking back, that some of the delays that then-President George W. Bush experienced during the transition resulted in his delaying getting his national security team in place. And that hurt us," Stier said, citing the 9/11 Commission report.

"What's at stake, really, is our security, our safety. And with the world we're in today, with economic challenges that are incredibly severe, we have a lot that we should be worried about," said Stier.