Esper’s future is in question after he opposed Trump on Wednesday over the president’s call to deploy active-duty troops to quash protests taking part throughout the U.S. In the 24 hours since Esper spoke out, he has met with the president at the White House and has received tepid-at-best endorsements from Trump’s team.
But instead of being shown an early exit, one person in the administration said, Esper could just face an icing out. It’s a fate that has befallen numerous aides and Cabinet secretaries who cross Trump, from former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, to national security advisers H.R. McMaster and John Bolton, to every former chief of staff. Weeks or months before each aide actually departed the administration, Trump simply cut them out of key decisions after growing frustrated with them.
Sidelining advisers who disagree with him is Trump’s “M.O.” said Guy Snodgrass, who was chief speechwriter for former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. “It sometimes happens just because President Trump wants that individual to feel that that’s an untenable position and they should depart on their own as opposed to him firing them.”