The post-election purge continues at the Pentagon, where acting undersecretary of defense for policy James Anderson has followed Defense Secretary Mike Esper out the door.
Esper was fired Monday by President Donald Trump, less than a week after he lost the election to Joe Biden, and the acting policy chief resigned a day later, reported Politico.
“I am particularly grateful to have been entrusted with leading the dedicated men and women of Policy, who play a key role in our Nation’s security,” Anderson wrote in his resignation letter. “Now, as ever, our long-term success depends on adhering to the U.S. Constitution all public servants swear to support and defend.”
Anderson has been acting as policy chief since February, when the White House chased away John Rood, the last person confirmed for the position, over perceived disloyalty to Trump.
He was confirmed June 3 by the Senate for the No. 2 position but had continued acting in the top role after confirmation hearings were canceled for Trump nominee Anthony Tata, a frequent Fox News guest who pushes Islamaphobic conspiracy theories and inflammatory content about leading Democrats.
Anderson’s departure potentially clears a path for Tata, who had been acting as deputy policy chief for months despite the revelation of tweets calling former President Barack Obama a “terrorist leader” and “Manchurian candidate.”
During his time as acting policy chief, Anderson pushed back when the White House tried to force the Defense Department to install Trump loyalists such as Frank Wuco, birther talk radio host, and Rich Higgins, a former National Security Council staffer and conspiracy theorist who also served as Tata’s chief of staff.
Trump named Christopher Miller, the Senate-confirmed director of the National Counterterrorism Center, to take over as Defense Secretary from Esper, who had also clashed with the president.
Miller’s nomination passes over deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist, who had been next in line for the top position under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, but Trump’s appointment from outside the department may have gotten around that statute.
Although he has little Pentagon experience, Miller was praised for his experience in national security and special operations.