Donald Trump has nominated Mark Esper to be the US Secretary of Defense, the White House said late Friday, as Washington navigates a spike in tensions with Iran.
The nomination of Esper, who was this week elevated to acting Pentagon chief from his post as Army Secretary, was announced hours after Trump revealed he had come close to authorizing a strike on Iran after it shot down an American drone.
There hasn’t been a full defense secretary since the resignation of James Mattis in December last year after splits in the administration over Trump’s sudden decision to remove US troops from Syria.
Esper, who must be confirmed by the Senate, is the third man to lead the Pentagon in six months.
He replaces Patrick Shanahan, who also led the military in an acting capacity but this week withdrew his name from consideration for defense secretary after facing questions over his past personal life and an allegation of domestic violence.
The new upheaval in what is one of the most powerful posts in the US government comes amid rising tensions in the Middle East.
Trump said Friday the United States was “cocked & loaded” to strike Iran but pulled back at the last minute because it would not have been a “proportionate” response to Tehran shooting down an American drone.
The downing of the drone — which Iran insists violated its airspace, a claim Washington denies — has seen tensions between the countries spike after a series of attacks on tankers the US has blamed on Tehran.
Unlike Shanahan, who had no military experience, 55-year-old Esper served in the 1991 Gulf War as part of the famous 101st Airborne Division of the US Army.
Esper had been a senior executive at the Raytheon defense firm for seven years when he was tapped by Trump to be Army Secretary in 2017.
‘Go look at President Trump’s Twitter’: Portland right-wing rally organizer claims ‘mission success’
The organizer of a far-right rally in Portland, Oregon claimed the event was a "success" after President Donald Trump attacked Portlandiers protesting the group.
"A confluence of protesters on opposite ends of the ideological spectrum merged on Portland’s waterfront Saturday in a tense but relatively uneventful face-off that brought national attention, including a tweet in the hours before the protest by President Trump decrying the city’s signature anti-fascist movement," the Oregonian reported Saturday.
When a similar right-wing rally in Charlottesville, Virginia killed Heather Heyer, Trump argued there were "fine people" on both sides of the "Unite the Right" rally.
Why was Jeffrey Epstein buying size 5 women’s panties — while in jail?
The Miami Herald has another bombshell report on Jeffrey Epstein, who died in a Manhattan jail while waiting to stand trial on federal sex crimes charges.
"A decade ago, during a brief stint in Palm Beach County Jail, convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein made an odd purchase at the facility’s store: two pairs of small women’s panties, size 5," the Herald reported Saturday night.
The newspaper noted, "the panties raise questions about why a childless male inmate, accused of sexually abusing girls as young as 14, would be allowed to buy female undergarments so small that they wouldn’t fit an average-sized adult woman."
White nationalist Republican ridiculed after only 2 people show up for his town hall meeting
Embattled Rep. Steve King (R-IA) suffered further humiliation on Saturday when only two people showed up for his town hall meeting with Iowa constituents.
King, who was stripped of all committee assignments for his white nationalism, was been an embarrassment for Republicans with his constant racism and misogyny.
A photo of the town hall meeting was posted on Twitter by Reuters photo editor Corinne Perkins.
Rep. King was quickly mocked in the comments.
Here's some of what people were saying: