US President Donald Trump has discussed with his advisers the possibilities of firing his Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.
Trump and Esper are said to have disagreements increasingly, says an insider who wants to remain anonymous.
Trump would not want to fire Esper until he is re-elected in November. Esper is respected by both Republicans and Democrats for his leadership within the Pentagon at a time when the military is increasingly involved in political affairs by the president.
Esper is said to have angered Trump by opposing the deployment of troops against protesters who took to the streets in June to protest racism and police brutality. Also, the two clashed in a discussion about the American Civil War confederation flag, widely regarded as a racist symbol. Esper has banned that flag on military bases, much to Trump’s anger.
Some see the former war flag of the Southern States, which rebelled for slavery preservation in 1861 and eventually lost the Civil War, as a symbol of Southern heritage and a commemorative symbol for the victims on the pro-slavery side. They know they have the support of Trump, who believes that the confederation flag falls under the freedom of expression.
The White House says it does not want to respond to speculation about Esper’s position. The Pentagon did not comment either, although a senior official who wished to remain anonymous says that the replacements in long posts are frequent at the end of presidential terms.
Democrats are worried about the Pentagon leadership after Trump’s recent unsuccessful attempt to put his controversial faithful Anthony Tata in a high position. Tata, who regularly stands up for Trump on the right-wing news channel Fox News, called former President Barack Obama a Muslim and a terrorist.