The White House announced on Friday evening that President Trump will nominate Army Secretary Mark Esper to fill the role of defense secretary.
The announcement comes three days after the resignation of Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan who was in line for the full-time position until reports surfaced about his contentious divorce and multiple domestic violence incidents in his family.
Esper, a West Point graduate and Gulf War veteran, has served as a top civilian Pentagon official, a lobbyist for defense contractor Raytheon, and an adviser to Republican lawmakers. Esper has a "deep understanding" of how Washington works, The Washington Post reports, and his nomination comes at a crucial moment, with the U.S. and Iran mired in escalating tensions. Lawmakers have reportedly been clamoring for "stable civilian leadership" at the Pentagon.
Esper was set to take over as acting defense secretary when Shanahan's resignation goes into effect on Sunday, but federal law may prevent him from carrying out those duties once Trump formally nominates him. Tim O'Donnell