national security risk as Democrats blast Esper firing

November 10, 2020

WASHINGTON ― Congressional Democrats unloaded on President Donald Trump for abruptly firing Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Monday, blasting the move as a danger to national security and spiteful toward a Pentagon leader Trump believed wasn’t loyal enough.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., was among lawmakers who warned the action would inject more uncertainty and risk into the country’s rocky transition to President-elect Joe Biden, whose electoral victory Trump has disputed.

“Dismissing politically appointed national security leaders during a transition is a destabilizing move that will only embolden our adversaries and put our country at greater risk,” Smith said in a statement. “President Trump’s decision to fire Secretary Esper out of spite is not just childish, it’s also reckless.

“It has long been clear that President Trump cares about loyalty above all else, often at the expense of competence, and during a period of presidential transition competence in government is of the utmost importance.”


With two Senate races that will determine which party controls the upper chamber headed to run-offs in January, and Trump contesting the election results, Congress’ lame-duck session looks like it will be a continuous partisan battle. Beyond the practical concerns surrounding the firing, it has opened an avenue of attack against Republicans on national security and the administration’s pandemic response that some congressional Republicans had hoped to avoid.

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