The Latest: Trump to nominate Esper to lead Pentagon

Politics
Donald Trump, Melania Trump

President Donald Trump, right, with first lady Melania Trump, center, greet attendees of the annual Congressional Picnic on the South Lawn of the White House, Friday, June 21, 2019, in Washington, as a Secret Service Agent watches at left. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Pentagon leadership (all times local):

8:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he will nominate Mark Esper to be the next U.S. defense secretary.

Esper, who is currently Army secretary, is scheduled to take over as acting defense secretary Sunday.

His predecessor as acting secretary, Patrick Shanahan, left the Pentagon Friday. Shanahan withdrew from consideration for the job Tuesday, before his formal nomination had even gone to the Senate.

Esper is an Army veteran who served in the first Iraq war. He also has experience as a national security adviser on Capitol Hill as well as a defense industry lobbyist.

Trump is nominating Army Undersecretary Ryan McCarthy to fill the Army secretary job left vacant by Esper.

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1:30 p.m.

It’s a perilous time to have temps running the Pentagon.

President Donald Trump’s brinkmanship with Iran is on the boil, spilling beyond diplomacy to a planned air attack on Iran that Trump said he ordered, then pulled back at least for now. This, as the U.S. undertakes an unusual troop deployment to the Mexican border, tends its nearly two-decade-old war in Afghanistan and grapples with stalled talks with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.

Through it all, the U.S. has no defense secretary, but rather an acting one who is taking over from another acting one, who suddenly quit.

And the latest one, Army Secretary Mark Esper, who takes over on Sunday, might only be able to serve as acting Pentagon chief for less than two months under the rules.

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