Aerial view of the Pentagon building photographed on September 24, 2017.
Bill Clark | CQ appeal group | Getty Images
WASHINGTON – The Pentagon elevated three Trump loyalists to powerful positions Tuesday, the day after the sudden resignation of Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and the resignation of several senior Defense Department officials.
The most recent revelation comes when President Donald Trump rejected last week’s election results. Trump did not concede Democrat Joe Biden, who on Saturday received more than the 270 votes required to win the presidency.
In a long statement released Tuesday afternoon, the Pentagon said that Anthony Tata, Ezra Cohen-Watnick and Kash Patel had been promoted to key roles.
With the resignation of James Anderson, Tata is now serving as a senior civil servant serving as the Undersecretary of State for Defense for Policy.
Tata, a retired Army general who turned pro-Trump expert on Fox News, joined the Department of Defense earlier this year. Trump had nominated him for a role that required Senate endorsement, but lawmakers rejected Tata in that role and the president instead appointed him to an acting role that did not require endorsement. Tata has a history of Islamophobia and has called President Barack Obama a “terrorist leader”.
Following the resignation of Joseph Kernen, Cohen-Watnick will take over as the new acting Under-Secretary of State for Intelligence and Security.
After being evicted from the White House in 2017 after working for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Cohen-Watnick rejoined the Trump administration earlier this year in a Pentagon role. Flynn was fired from his role and eventually pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. Cohen-Watnick also worked for former Attorney General Jeff Sessions before Sessions was fired in 2018.
The Secretary of Defense’s chief of staff, Jen Stewart, will be replaced by Kash Patel, member of the National Security Council. Patel was an employee of Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., Who worked to discredit the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible links between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.
“I would like to thank Dr. Anderson, Admiral Kernan, and Jen Stewart for their service to the nation and the Department. Each of them has made great contributions to national defense and the future of the Department of Defense throughout their careers. We wish them all the best.” their next effort, “Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller said in a statement.
On Monday, Trump announced on Twitter that he had “quit” Esper and replaced it with Miller, director of the National Counter-Terrorism Center. The announcement came about five months after he and Esper took a public hiatus to deal with civil unrest in America’s cities.
In an interview with the Military Times, days before Trump fired him, Esper warned of trouble if he was to be replaced.
“At the end of the day, like I said – you have to choose your fights,” Esper told the publication. “I could argue about anything, and I could make it a big fight, and I could live with it – why? Who will come in behind me? It’ll be a real ‘yes man’. And then God helps us.”
Here is the full statement:
“As announced yesterday, November 9, President Trump has appointed the Director of the National Counter-Terrorism Center, Chris Miller, as Acting Secretary of Defense. Mr. Miller took over these roles and responsibilities yesterday at noon. Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist remains in his position and continue to take responsibility.
Jen Stewart, now under Secretary of Defense for Policy Dr. James Anderson, under the Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security, Joseph Kernan and Chief of Staff to the Secretary of Defense, submitted letters of resignation.
Dr. Anderson presented his resignation letter to the President this morning, effective today. The Acting Secretary of Defense has delegated the Undersecretary’s responsibilities for Politics to Mr. Anthony Tata. As such, Mr. Tata is the senior official in charge of the duties of the Under-Secretary of State for Policy. Previously, he was the senior official in charge of the Deputy Secretary of Defense for Policy. Dr. Thomas Williams will now serve as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Policy.
As planned for several months, Undersecretary Kernan submitted his resignation letter, which he resigned today. Current Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflicts, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, will be the new Acting Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security. Mr. Ralph Cacci will continue to serve as Assistant Under-Secretary of State for Intelligence and Security.
Also today, Ms. Stewart submitted her resignation from the position of Chief of Staff, effective today. Mr. Kash Patel, currently a member of the National Security Council, has been appointed Chief of Staff by Acting Secretary Miller.
Acting Secretary of Defense Miller made the following statement regarding these personnel changes: “I would like to thank Dr. Thank Anderson, Admiral Kernan, and Jen Stewart for their service to the nation and the department. Throughout their careers, everyone has made a huge contribution to national defense and the future of the Ministry of Defense. We wish you all the best in your next endeavor. ‘”