Top Pentagon official leaving Trump administration

A top Defense Department official is set to leave the administration following a resignation request from President TrumpDonald TrumpSouth Carolina Senate adds firing squad as alternative execution method Ex-Trump aide Pierson won't run for Dallas-area House seat House Oversight panel reissues subpoena for Trump's accounting firm MORE.

John Rood, undersecretary of Defense for policy at the Pentagon, will exit his post by the end of the month, Pentagon press secretary Alyssa Farah said. James Anderson, a senior Pentagon official, will serve as Rood's acting replacement until a permanent one is confirmed.

Rood, who assumed his position in 2018, serves as a principal adviser to Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperCORRECTED: Overnight Defense: COVID-19 stymies effort to study sexual assault at military academies | Biden, Saudi king speak ahead of Khashoggi report Female generals' promotions held back over fears of Trump's response: report Overnight Defense: Army details new hair and grooming standards | DC National Guard chief says Pentagon restricted his authority before riot | Colorado calls on Biden not to move Space Command MORE and coordinates national security policy within the Pentagon as part of his role. He also oversees areas that deal with the country's partnership with foreign allies.


Rood indicated that his resignation was in response to a request from the president, according to a copy of his resignation letter shared by Breaking Defense.

"Senior administration officials appointed by the president serve at the pleasure of the president, and therefore, as you have requested I am providing my resignation," he wrote.

Trump in a tweet Wednesday morning thanked Rood for his service.


Esper also thanked Rood for his service, saying in a statement that he "played a critical role on a wide range of DoD issues, including... efforts to increase burden sharing by our NATO allies."

CNN first reported that Rood was leaving the department after losing support among national security officials.

Rood played a role in initially certifying to Congress that Ukraine had taken actions to make institutional reforms within its government in order to receive $250 million in security assistance from the U.S.

“The United States remains committed to assisting with the implementation of these reforms to bolster Ukraine’s ability to defend its territorial integrity in support of a secure and democratic Ukraine,” Rood wrote, according to a letter previously obtained by The Hill.

The letter undermined the justification that some Trump administration members gave for withholding military assistance. Some officials had said that the block in funding was a product of a push for corruption reform.

Rood reportedly also emailed Esper just hours after Trump's July 25 phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. In the email, Rood informed the Pentagon chief of an upcoming meeting that would address Trump's "concern about endemic corruption in Ukraine and his reported view that US should cease providing security assistance," according to CNN.

Rood asserted that "placing a hold on security assistance at this time would jeopardize this unique window of opportunity and undermine our defense priorities with a key partner in the strategic competition with Russia."

Trump's move to block military aid for Ukraine and press the country's president for investigations of his political rivals was at the center of the House impeachment. The Senate voted to acquit the president of the impeachment articles.

Rood had reportedly become a source of frustration among Defense officials, who alleged in a Foreign Policy article in December that he was responsible for a toxic work environment.

The magazine reported that nearly a dozen former and current Pentagon officials said Rood was to blame for an increase in departures.

Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said at the time that the department had the “utmost confidence” in Rood.

—Updated at 12:33 p.m.