Will Trump fire more people? Even Fauci?
Paul Frymer, professor of politics at Princeton University, said Donald Trump’s firing-via-Twitter of his Defence Secretary Mark Esper earlier today was “typical of his whole presidency” and cautioned it could spell danger for Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who has also clashed with Trump.
“He can’t control his impulses or temper and he demands loyalty to him over policy, constitution or anything else,” Frymer said. Trump has had an uneasy relationship with the Pentagon, where Esper and top brass have repeatedly sought to avoid being seen as a political instrument of the Trump administration.
Esper’s predecessor, Jim Mattis, quit in 2018 over policy differences with Trump, including on Syria.
Mattis in June criticized Trump as the “first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people – does not even pretend to try.
“Instead he tries to divide us.”
Like Mattis, Esper also disagreed with Trump’s dismissive attitude toward the NATO alliance and was wary of Trump’s inclination to see US military alliances through an explicitly transactional lens even as he backed Trump’s calls for allies to increase defense spending, sources said.
But he also split with Trump on headline-grabbing issues, including Esper’s desire to shield Alexander Vindman, then a lieutenant colonel working at the White House, from retaliation over his testimony in Trump’s impeachment inquiry.
Michael O’Hanlon at the Brookings Institute think-tank said he did not believe Trump was likely to embark on a damaging shakeup of US national security policy despite firing Esper.
“He will want to believe he has some kind of reasonable legacy – in economics, in strengthening the military, in not starting new wars,” O’Hanlon said, noting Trump might want to try to run for office again in 2024.