United States President Donald Trump on Monday sacked Defence Secretary Mark Esper, just two days after media projections showed him losing the elections. Trump appeared to have fired him in a tweet.
The incumbent president also removed the scientist in charge of the programme that oversees federal climate change reports, The New York Times reported.
Trump tweeted that Christopher Miller, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, will take up the role of acting defence secretary “effective immediately.”
The US president and Esper have differed on several matters. Trump was specifically upset over the top official’s opposition to his suggestion to use military forces to suppress anti-racism protests in Minneapolis, after George Floyd’s killing, according to Reuters.
House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Esper’s termination showed Trump’s intention to create chaos in democracy during his final days in office. “The abrupt firing of Secretary Esper is disturbing evidence that President Trump is intent on using his final days in office to sow chaos in our American Democracy and around the world,” she was quoted as saying by Reuters.
Representative Adam Smith, the leader of the House Armed Services Committee, called Trump’s decision “childish” and “reckless.”
As for federal climate change reports, Michael Kuperberg, executive director of the US’ Global Change Research Program, will be replaced by David Legates, who has in the past worked closely with climate change denial groups, according to The New York Times. Legates is a deputy assistant secretary at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Since 2015, Kuperberg had headed the US Global Change Research Program, which was meant to coordinate the climate programmes of 13 government agencies. His last report had allegedly “angered the White House”, according to Washington Post. Trump has consistently been skeptical of climate change and global heating.
Losing the election
Donald Trump has refused concede the election. Instead, he continues to claim, without evidence, that there has been a multi-state conspiracy by Democrats to rig the vote tally in his opponent President-elect Joe Biden’s favour. Although counting of votes in the United States is still underway, Biden holds a sizeable lead in multiple battleground states and there has been no indication of improperly counted votes so far that would shift the outcome.
On Tuesday, US Attorney General William Barr upheld Trump’s unfounded claims on election irregularities and authorised American attorneys to investigate “substantial” allegations of voter fraud before the results of the presidential race are certified.
The Electoral College is slated to formally confirm Biden’s victory on December 14 and the Democrat will be sworn into office late January. Kamala Harris will be his vice president.