Though the 2020 election remains up in the air, Defense Secretary Mark Esper has reportedly prepared his letter of resignation for President Donald Trump.
NBC News points out it is common for cabinet members to write undated letters of resignation as administrations anticipate a presidential transition; however, three anonymous defense officials told the outlet Esper has been preparing for his departure for quite some time, as he is one of the several administration officials who was expected to be ousted if Trump managed to secure a second term.
The Defense Secretary has had multiple disagreements with POTUS over the last several months. Back in June, he opposed Trump's call to use active-duty military members to stop Black Lives Matter demonstrations across the country. Trump also took issue with Esper effectively banning the Confederate flag from military bases, and disagreed with Esper's openness to remove the name of Confederate figures from American forts.
"These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom," Trump tweeted, shortly after Esper announced the potential move. "Therefore, my Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations."
According to NBC News, Esper reportedly plans to work with Congress on law that would remove the names of Confederate leaders from military bases.
Per the outlet:
This week Esper provided a written framework to Pentagon leaders for renaming installations, and possibly even ships and street names on bases, that honor Confederate generals or leaders, the officials said. For example, the framework suggests that the NDAA could say that military installations cannot be named after someone who has betrayed the U.S. or committed a felony, and instead must be named after people who have met certain criteria, like having earned a Medal of Honor or Silver Star, or achieving the rank of general.
The defense officials told NBC News that Esper was thinking about his legacy, especially after he was perceived as one of Trump's many "yes" men.
"He cares about his legacy and prefers to be remembered as someone who was fired because he stood up to the president, rather than being remembered as 'Yesper,'" one of the sources said.
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