Trump expected to nominate Esper as Defense chief

Trump expected to nominate Esper as Defense chief
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump faces high stakes in meeting with Erdoğan amid impeachment drama Democrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Trump threatening to fire Mulvaney: report MORE formally nominated Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Pentagon says Syrian oil revenue going to Kurdish forces | GOP chair accuses Dems of using Space Force as leverage in wall fight | Dems drop plans to seek Bolton testimony Pentagon: Revenue from Syria oil fields going to Kurdish-led forces The Hill's Morning Report - Dems poised to air alleged Trump abuses on TV 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 ShanahanDefense chief calls on European allies to be wary of China's investments, blasts Russia Pentagon chief approves 20 more miles of border wall Why Dave Norquist is the perfect choice for DOD's deputy secretary MORE stepped down from the role and withdrew his nomination to lead the Pentagon.

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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 MattisFormer Mattis staffer: Trump 'shooting himself in the foot' on foreign policy Former staffer hits back at Mattis's office over criticism of tell-all book Former speechwriter for General James Mattis: Has the national security state grappled with Donald Trump? 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The president announced Tuesday that Shanahan had withdrawn from consideration to lead the Pentagon on a permanent basis because the former Boeing executive wanted to "devote more time to his family."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.