President Trump out of public view on Monday, continued to contest ballots in Pennsylvania and other states while also firing Defense Secretary Mark Esper, adding new turbulence to an unsettled government nearly a week after Election Day.
In a day filled with leadership split screens, President-elect Joe Biden named a pandemic advisory board as part of his push for “bold action” to defeat the coronavirus, urging Americans to wear masks to help avert more fatalities. “It doesn’t matter who you voted for,” Biden said. “It doesn’t matter your party. We could save tens of thousands of lives if everyone would just wear a mask for the next few months.”
Trump and Biden separately cheered a breakthrough from Pfizer that set off a surge of optimistic trading in financial markets after the company’s CEO described an effective COVID-19 vaccine in clinical trials (CNBC).
Elsewhere in the Trump administration on Monday, pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson, the secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, announced he contracted COVID-19, possibly during an election night celebration at the White House that included chief of staff Mark Meadows, who is among staff members who have recently tested positive for the coronavirus (The Associated Press).
At NASA, Administrator Jim Bridenstine, a former GOP congressman from Oklahoma appointed by Trump in 2018, indicated he did not doubt that Biden would be the 46th president, announcing he would leave the agency anticipating ideological differences (Aviation Week).
Trump’s decision to purge Esper, the second Defense secretary he has fired after disagreements, was not a surprise and may be part of a larger clearing-out still to come. Axios reported that next on the president’s chopping block may be FBI Director Christopher Wray and CIA Director Gina Haspel.
In a lengthy interview with Military Times, Esper said he has no regrets about how he handled Trump’s demands and resulting disagreements, arguing he tried to be a guardian for an apolitical military. “At the end of the day … you’ve got to pick your fights,” he said. “I could have a fight over anything, and I could make it a big fight, and I could live with that — why? Who’s going to come in behind me? It’s going to be a real ‘yes man.’ And then God help us.”
Read more at The Hil: https://thehill.com/homenews/morning-report/525246-the-hills-morning-report