Pentagon's Top Policy Official Resigns Day After Defense Secretary Fired

James Anderson, acting undersecretary of defense for policy, submitted his resignation after reportedly clashing with the White House.

The Pentagon’s top policy official resigned Tuesday, a day after President Donald Trump announced Defense Secretary Mark Esper had been fired.

James Anderson, acting undersecretary of defense for policy, submitted his letter of resignation to Trump on Tuesday, effective immediately.

In his letter, a copy of which was obtained by Politico, Anderson wrote, “Now, as ever, our long-term success depends on adhering to the U.S. Constitution all public servants swear to support and defend.”

Anderson was sworn in as the deputy undersecretary of defense for policy in August 2018, but has been serving as the acting undersecretary since June. The White House was expected to ask Anderson to resign this week, Politico reported.

Anderson has reportedly clashed with the White House on personnel decisions. He pushed back on efforts to install several Trump loyalists at the Defense Department, including a former State Department official with a history of making anti-Muslim and racist comments.

Retired Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata has reportedly been tapped to replace Anderson. Tata has drawn scrutiny for past comments, including calling former President Barack Obama a “terrorist leader.”

The White House did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.

James Anderson served as acting undersecretary of defense for policy since June.
James Anderson served as acting undersecretary of defense for policy since June.
POOL/Reuters

Anderson’s departure comes on the heels of Esper’s termination.

Esper was one of several officials expected to be ousted after the election. He defied Trump several times since assuming the top role at the Pentagon in June 2019, drawing the ire of the president.

In June of this year, Esper accompanied the president for an infamous walk to a church near the White House to take photos amid anti-racism protests. After the photos were taken, Esper said he didn’t realize why the president was going to the church and that he tries to stay out of “situations that may appear political.”

He also defied Trump’s threat to use active-duty troops to quell the nationwide protests and effectively barred Confederate flags on military bases against the president’s wishes.

Two other Defense Department officials ― Jen Stewart, who was chief of staff to Esper and continues in that role with new acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, and Joseph Kernan, undersecretary of defense for intelligence ― are also expected to depart, according to Politico.

Stewart will reportedly be replaced with Kash Patel, a former staffer for Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) who worked to discredit then-special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

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