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BREAKING: Defense Secretary Drafts Resignation Letter

BREAKING: Defense Secretary Drafts Resignation Letter

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has drafted a resignation letter because he expects to be fired by President Donald Trump sometime after the election, three separate Defense Department sources told NBC News exclusively on Thursday afternoon.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

According to reporting by NBC’s Courtney Kube and Carol E. Lee:

Esper prepared his letter because he is one of the Cabinet officials long expected to be pushed out after the election.

As his tenure may be coming to an end, Esper is helping members of Congress draft legislation that will strip names of Confederate leaders from military bases in a move that could put him further at odds with President Donald Trump.

This singular issue has distended into an irreparable schism between Esper and Trump:

Two current defense officials said Esper believes that if he announces the renaming it could lead Trump to fire him. But Esper is not pushing the renaming because he wants to get fired, according to two other defense officials, who insist he believes this issue is important.

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Esper is also thinking about his legacy, said the two officials. He earned the nickname ‘Yesper’ from lawmakers and White House officials for, in their view, his willingness to implement Trump’s agenda without pushing back. ‘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 defense official said.

The White House refused to comment on “personnel matters or speculate on potential changes within the administration,” NBC’s report said.

Trump has long-defended the legacies of Confederate military leaders, who led Southern troops in an insurrection over slavery against the North, leading to the American Civil War. At least 600,000 Americans died in the conflict.

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