Trump sending ally to Pentagon to vet officials’ loyalty: report
President Trump 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.
Officials are concerned Cutrone will undermine Defense Secretary Mark Esper’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 Mattis 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.