The Atlantic

Don’t Expect Mark Esper to Contain Trump

The nominee for defense secretary may well be qualified for the job—even a lot of Democrats think so. But in this administration, there’s a limit to anyone’s influence.
Source: Erin Scott / Reuters

If Mark Esper is confirmed as defense secretary—after seven months without anyone confirmed in that position—he will be walking into the same predicament many other Trump-administration officials occupy. Doing the job right requires speaking the truth. Keeping the job may require catering to a president with little use for it.

Democrats pressed Esper at his confirmation hearing today on whether he would stand up to President Donald Trump. The hearing kicked off with a nod to the last defense secretary, when Senator Tim Kaine introduced Esper and recalled his discouragement when the widely revered Jim Mattis resigned. “What we’ve

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