Politics

Senior Pentagon official Wheelbarger resigns and asks his colleagues to be guided by the U.S. structure

Kathryn Wheelbarger

Source: Wikipedia Commons

Kathryn Wheelbarger, one of the Pentagon's most prominent and respected politicians, is stepping down after three years after President Donald Trump dropped plans to nominate her for a secret service post, sources told Reuters.

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Wheelbarger, highly valued by national security experts in Trump's Republican Party and among Democrats, was appointed to a senior intelligence position in the Department of Defense by the White House on February 13.

In a surprising move last week, the White House instead announced plans to appoint Bradley Hansell, a former Trump special assistant, to the Secretary of Defense for Intelligence.

In her letter of resignation, which Reuters had seen, Wheelbarger said she was confident that her colleagues would "continue to be guided by the US Constitution and the principles of our founding, which ensure both our security and our freedom."

Both current and former U.S. officials have accused the White House of omitting Wheelbarger for her previous work with late Republican Senator John McCain, a violent Trump critic and former chairman of the Senate Armed Forces Committee.

Wheelbarger took care of the committee's intelligence portfolio and was greatly appreciated by Congress both Republicans and Democrats.

"It looks like she somehow failed the loyalty test," said a former US official on condition of anonymity.

A source from Congress said it was disappointing that the Trump administration did not recognize "one of its greatest assets".

"It was one of the few really thoughtful, persuasive voices that people really seemed to be responding to," said the source of the congress on condition of anonymity.

Their farewell will come when Trump tries to overcome strong Senate Democratic opposition to his appointment of retired army general Anthony Tata, a strong Trump defender in Fox News, to the Pentagon's highest political position.

Tata misrepresented former President Barack Obama as a Muslim and accused him of being a "terrorist leader" campaigning for Iran, according to Reuters' recently deleted tweets.

Democrats, including Senator Jack Reed, the top Democrat on the Chamber's Armed Forces Committee, have signaled that they are opposed to Tata's nomination.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is also a member of the committee, described Tata as "by far Trump's most unqualified and unsuitable candidate for high-level defense – a high standard".

"An anti-Islamic conspiracy theorist who described President Obama as a" terrorist leader "should not be number 3 in the Pentagon," said Warren in a statement.

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