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4 Top Civilian Officials Leave Pentagon, Raising Concerns About National Security

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Americans have not heard President Trump's voice since he lost the presidential election, a trend that continued today at a Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. Trump spent just six minutes at the cemetery and then left without making a statement.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

But the outgoing president has been very busy out of sight. On this week, when America honors its veterans, Trump has been remaking the top layers of the military and the national security apparatus. It began Monday with Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, whose firing Trump announced in a tweet.

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UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #1: At the White House tonight, President Trump defiant, tweeting that he fired...

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #2: Defense Secretary Mark Esper - the president announced the news on Twitter...

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #3: In a tweet, Defense Secretary Mark Esper has been terminated.

SHAPIRO: Shortly after, an interview Esper gave to The Military Times made headlines because of the fired defense secretary's warning about his successor.

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UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #4: Esper, in a newly released interview, defends himself as more than a yes man...

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #5: Esper told The Military Times his replacement would be the president's, quote, "yes man." And if that happens, he says, quote, "God help us."

CHANG: Esper's firing led to the departures of people in at least three other high-level positions in the Pentagon, all reported yesterday. In the span of just one day, the Pentagon's acting policy chief resigned, along with the defense secretary's chief of staff. They were joined by the undersecretary of defense for intelligence. And President Trump, still the commander in chief, has replaced all of them with loyalists, one of whom called former President Obama a terrorist leader. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.