Trump fires defence secretary and continues to dispute outcome of US election

US President announced on Twitter that Esper had been ‘terminated’

US president Donald Trump fired his defence secretary Mark Esper on Monday and continued to dispute the outcome of last week's election, as president-elect Joe Biden got to work with a new coronavirus strategy.

Mr Trump, who will remain as president until January 20th, announced via his Twitter feed that Mr Esper had been “terminated”.

It had been widely reported that the Pentagon chief had already penned a resignation letter in recent months. He publicly disagreed with Mr Trump's threat to deploy active duty troops to quell public protests during demonstrations over the police killing of George Floyd this summer, and tensions had been high between the two men.

Christopher Miller, a defence department official, will assume one of the US's most important cabinet positions in an acting capacity.


While Mr Trump has refused to concede to Mr Biden, the president-elect addressed the nation again on Monday, outlining his coronavirus strategy and unveiled details of a new Covid-19 advisory board.

Seeking to portray a message of unity, Mr Biden cast the coronavirus pandemic as an issue impacting all Americans. “It doesn’t matter who you voted for – we are American and our country is under threat,” he said, as he stressed the importance of wearing masks.

His comments came as the number of coronavirus cases in the United States passed 10 million on Monday – a grim milestone for a country that has suffered more deaths from the virus than any other.

Several members of the Trump administration have tested positive for Covid-19 in recent days, raising fears that Mr Trump's speech in the East Room of the White House on election night may have been an occasion for the spread of the virus.

Vote-counting continued in a handful of states on Monday, a week after the presidential election, with Mr Biden increasing his lead in Pennsylvania and Georgia. The election was declared for Mr Biden on Saturday after his lead in Pennsylvania became unassailable.

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch, a former Irish Times journalist, was Washington correspondent and, before that, Europe correspondent