Trump sending ally to Pentagon to vet officials' loyalty: report

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDonald Trump and Joe Biden create different narratives for the election The hollowing out of the CDC Poll: Biden widens lead over Trump to 10 points MORE is sending a White House ally to the Pentagon to vet officials’ loyalty to him, Foreign Policy reported Wednesday.

Michael Cutrone, who has served as Vice President Pence’s top national security aide for South Asia, is expected to serve in a behind-the-scenes role in the Pentagon to measure how loyal other officials are to Trump, two current administration officials told the Foreign Policy. 

The timeline of Cutrone’s arrival is unclear at this time. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Officials are concerned Cutrone will undermine Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperPentagon orders active-duty police units on ready to deploy to Minneapolis: AP Overnight Defense: Trump extends deployment of National Guard troops to aid with coronavirus response | Pentagon considers reducing quarantine to 10 days | Lawmakers push for removal of Nazi headstones from VA cemeteries No time to be selling arms to the Philippines MORE’s authority as Trump attempts to remove disloyal officials from the rankings, according to the report. Some said they worried the few officials left to push back on ideas will be removed from their positions or undercut. 

“He is pushing to replace and remove civilians in OSD [the Office of the Secretary of Defense] that are not aligned with the White House,” one current senior administration official said. “Esper has no say in who the key people are going into senior positions.”

Trump has frequently replaced Cabinet members and other officials who have disagreed with him. Former Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Pentagon watchdog sidelined by Trump resigns | Plan would reportedly bring troops in Afghanistan back by Election Day | Third service member dies from COVID-19 Trump wants troops in Afghanistan back stateside by Election Day: report 'Never Trump' Republicans: Fringe, or force to be reckoned with? MORE resigned under pressure after repeated battles with Trump over a number of issues. Trump is on his second secretary of State and third national security adviser. 

The Pentagon told Foreign Policy it had “no personnel announcement with regard to that person or that position, and we don’t have any information about any other speculation.”

The Pentagon told The Hill that it deferred to the White House on nominations. The White House did not immediately return a request for comment.