Mark Esper has been an Army officer, congressional staffer and corporate lobbyist. Now the Army secretary is the third person President Donald Trump has tapped to lead the Pentagon, at least temporarily.
In two tweets Tuesday afternoon, Trump announced that acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan was out after six months on the job — and was withdrawing from consideration for the permanent post to “devote more time to his family.” Esper, in turn, got promoted and a ringing endorsement from the commander in chief.
“I know Mark, and have no doubt he will do a fantastic job!” the president tweeted.
A former Raytheon lobbyist who was confirmed to the Army position on an 89-6 vote in November 2017, Esper brings both military experience and political savvy to the post.
But like other Trump appointees with lobbying backgrounds, he also carries the baggage of his extensive experience working inside the Beltway. One watchdog group immediately raised concerns about his defense industry ties.