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Senior Pentagon Official Resigns as Trump Remakes Leadership

November 11, 2020by Anthony Capaccio, Bloomberg News
James H. Anderson testifies on his nomination to be a Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy before the Senate Armed Services committee at the U.S. capital in Washington D.C. Thursday, May 7, 2020. Anderson resigned Tuesday. (Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images/TNS)

WASHINGTON — A senior Defense Department official resigned on Tuesday, opening the way for a longtime ally of President Donald Trump to take on a key leadership role a day after Pentagon chief Mark Esper was fired.

James Anderson, the acting deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, had been in his current role only since June. He didn’t give a reason for his departure in a resignation letter to the president but praised policies put in place during his time in the Trump administration.

“It is clear that despite profound national security and defense challenges, America is more secure than it was four years ago,” Anderson wrote. “Thank you for the opportunity to serve.”

Anderson’s departure may open the way for his acting deputy, Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata, to fill the post. Trump had picked Tata for the undersecretary role in June, but his nomination foundered amid controversy over his past remarks, including derogatory comments about Islam.

A defense official, who asked not to be identified discussing the change, said he didn’t know if Tata would get the policy role.

The turmoil at the Pentagon comes at a delicate time, with Joe Biden having won the Nov. 3 election but Trump continuing to claim widespread but unsubstantiated charges of voting fraud that he says means he won the election.

Trump dismissed Esper by tweet on Monday without explanation, with the president saying only that “I would like to thank him for his service.” But the president had long bristled at Esper’s failure to be more supportive of him publicly.

Trump appointed Christopher Miller, the Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, as acting Pentagon chief.

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Jennifer Jacobs contributed to this report.

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(c)2020 Bloomberg News

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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