Trump expected to nominate Esper as Defense chief

Trump expected to nominate Esper as Defense chief
© Screenshot

President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew Bob Woodward book will include details of 25 personal letters between Trump and Kim Jong Un On The Money: Pelosi, Mnuchin talk but make no progress on ending stalemate | Trump grabs 'third rail' of politics with payroll tax pause | Trump uses racist tropes to pitch fair housing repeal to 'suburban housewife' Biden commemorates anniversary of Charlottesville 'Unite the Right' rally: 'We are in a battle for the soul of our nation' MORE formally nominated Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Trump reportedly considering replacing Esper after election | FBI, Air Force investigating after helicopter shot at in Virginia | Watchdog says UK envoy made inappropriate comments on religion, race, sex Trump eyes replacing Esper after election: reports Overnight Defense: Esper confirms plans to drop below 5,000 troops in Afghanistan | State Department says it's cleared of wrongdoing in emergency arms sales before investigation's release MORE, currently the secretary of the Army, as Defense secretary, according to multiple reports.

The president made the official announcement Friday evening Esper as acting Defense chief earlier this week after Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanHouse Armed Services chairman expresses confidence in Esper amid aircraft carrier coronavirus crisis Boeing pleads for bailout under weight of coronavirus, 737 fallout Esper's chief of staff to depart at end of January MORE stepped down from the role and withdrew his nomination to lead the Pentagon.

ADVERTISEMENT

Esper, who was confirmed by the Senate 89-6 in the fall of 2017, is a former infantry officer and previously served as a top executive at the defense contractor Raytheon.

Shanahan served as acting Defense secretary since the beginning of the year, following the departure of James MattisJames Norman MattisTrump eyes replacing Esper after election: reports Overnight Defense: Most VA workers find racism 'moderate to serious problem' at facilities l Trump advisers were wary of talking military options over fears he'd accidentally start war Trump advisers were wary of talking military options over fears he'd accidentally start war: report MORE.

Trump had said he planned to nominate Shanahan to lead the Pentagon permanently, but never officially sent the nomination to the Senate.

The president announced Tuesday that Shanahan had withdrawn from consideration to lead the Pentagon on a permanent basis because the former Boeing executive wanted to "devote more time to his family."

The announcement came as reports emerged detailing multiple instances of past domestic violence involving Shanahan's family.

The lack of a permanent leader at the Department of Defense comes amid escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

Iran shot down a U.S. Navy surveillance drone this week, with the two sides disputing where it occurred. Tehran has said the drone was flying over Iranian airspace, while American officials have been adamant the aircraft was in international airspace.

Trump then tweeted Friday morning that the U.S. was "cocked and loaded" to carry out a retaliatory strike against Iran before he pulled back at the last minute upon learning there could be 150 casualties.