Trump on Esper: ‘I consider firing everybody’
During a press conference at his Bedminster, N.J., property Saturday, President Trump said that he “considers firing everybody” when asked if he considered firing Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.
The comment from the president comes after reports surfaced this week saying that Trump, who has had significant turnover in his administration, is considering letting go of Esper.
“Some people call him Yesper,” Trump said, appearing to nod at reports that officials at the Pentagon call Esper that name because of his loyalty to the president.
“I get along with him,” Trump added. “I think he’s fine.”
Q: “Have you considered firing [Esper], Mr. President?”
Trump: “I consider firing everybody.” pic.twitter.com/WaEjH0mjJm
— The Hill (@thehill) August 15, 2020
The reports come after Esper broke with the president in June when he opposed using active-duty troops against protesters. At the time, Trump repeatedly threatened to send in the military in to quell demonstrations against racial injustice and police violence sparked by the death of George Floyd.
In July, Esper also effectively banned the display of the Confederate battle flag on Pentagon property even as Trump continued to defend its display of the flag as an issue of free speech.
Before Esper was confirmed by the Senate last year, the Defense secretary post was held by acting officials for nearly seven months following former Defense Secretary James Mattis’s resignation in protest over Trump’s since-reversed decision to withdraw troops from Syria.
Following the staff question about Esper, a reporter asked if the president foresees more turnover in his cabinet.
“It’s my understanding that if we win, the president will ask for the resignation of everybody and bring back the people he wants,” Trump continued Saturday. “That’s happened before and I can see something like that happening.”
Trump added that he has “a very good cabinet with few exceptions.”
“I wouldn’t say I’m thrilled with everybody, frankly, but overall I think we have a very good cabinet,” Trump said.
Esper is among several administration officials Trump is considering shuffling if he wins the November election according to media reports. It is not uncommon for presidents to switch up their cabinets in a second term, though the Pentagon has seen a particularly high amount of turnover during this current administration’s tenure.