Trump hints at possible picks for Pentagon chief in a second term

Hewitt mentioned five other names who could serve as Trump’s defense secretary: Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former national security adviser Robert O’Brien and Reps. Mike Waltz (R-Fla.) and Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.).

“That’s a good list to start off with,” Trump said, before bringing up Miller.

Trump tapped Miller to be his acting defense secretary on Nov. 9, 2020, after firing former Pentagon chief Mark Esper and a spate of other top Defense Department officials in the days after the presidential election. Miller, who was previously Trump’s director of the National Counterterrorism Center, served at the top of the Pentagon until Trump left office on Jan. 20, 2021.

Miller’s tenure was short but eventful. Shortly after stepping into the job, he announced Trump’s
ordered drawdown from Afghanistan and Iraq
to just a few thousand troops in both countries, a move Esper had resisted. His chief of staff as acting defense secretary was Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes who played a key role as a Hill staffer in helping Republicans discredit the Russia probe.

Miller came under fire for his response to the storming of the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters on Jan. 6, 2021. He
approved the deployment
of the National Guard to help the Capitol Police, but critics say the troops arrived hours too late. Miller defended his actions before Congress, saying that he was concerned that sending troops to the Capitol
would fuel fears
of a military coup.

He also said Trump played a role in the insurrection. “Would anybody have marched on the Capitol, and overrun the Capitol, without the president’s speech? I think it’s pretty much definitive that wouldn’t have happened,” Miller said in an
interview with VICE on Showtime

Miller’s team was also accused of
blocking the Biden transition team
from meeting with key DOD officials, but the Pentagon
denied those allegations

“I’m humbled by President Trump’s comments — he was remarkably effective at protecting Americans and advancing our Nation’s interests around the world. I was honored to play a small part,” Miller said Friday when asked for comment. “I come from a family of public servants — when asked to serve, we answer the call.”

He was less than enthusiastic about the job in the waning days of the Trump administration. During an extraordinary meeting with reporters while flying back to Washington on Jan. 14, 2021, was asked about problematic weapons programs at the Pentagon, including the tri-service F-35 fighter jet and the Navy’s littoral combat ships.

“I so … I mean, I cannot wait to leave this job, believe me,” he said,
according to an official DOD transcript
. “But part of me is like, I would have loved to have gotten involved in the acquisition process and try … and you know, talk about [a] wicked problem.”

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