Yet Trump’s record tells a different story. All three of his hand-picked defense secretaries had ties to the defense industry: Jim Mattis was a member of the General Dynamics board of directors, Pat Shanahan was an executive with Boeing, and Mark Esper was Raytheon’s top lobbyist. Mattis also returned to his board position shortly after leaving the Pentagon, showing the revolving door between industry and the Defense Department.
Nearly half of senior Defense Department officials are connected to military contractors, according to an analysis by the Project on Government Oversight.
But beyond personnel choices, Trump has made the purchase, public display and foreign sales of military hardware a major priority of his administration.
He has championed two defense budgets that blew past $700 billion, and is preparing to sign a third. The bill that Trump signed in 2018 locked in the largest budget the Pentagon had ever seen, only to top it the following year.