Trump Taps Point Man to Remove Pentagon Officials Seen as Disloyal

There’s no way he’s going to leave peacefully if he gets voted out in November. He’s trying to put in some deep roots.

In another move aimed at consolidating control over policy and messaging, the Trump administration is sending a White House loyalist to serve in a key Defense Department policy role that officials are worried is aimed at weeding out civilians not loyal to the president, Foreign Policy has learned.

Michael Cutrone, who has been detailed as Vice President Mike Pence’s top national security aide for South Asia, is set to arrive at the Pentagon to serve in a behind-the-scenes role vetting Defense Department officials for loyalty to the president, according to two current administration officials.

Some officials fear that the arrival of Cutrone and other planned personnel moves at the Pentagon could undercut Defense Secretary Mark Esper as the White House has looked to put in place more defense officials loyal to the president, headlined by the reported pick of retired Army Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata as the agency’s top policy official, who caught President Donald Trump’s eye as a Fox News commentator.

“He is pushing to replace and remove civilians in OSD that are not aligned with the White House,” one current senior administration official told Foreign Policy of Cutrone’s plans to reshuffle officials in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. “Esper has no say in who the key people are going into senior positions.”