- Kathryn Wheelbarger, a top Pentagon official who days ago had her nomination for a permanent senior position pulled by the White House, has resigned.
- Her nomination was, according to Politico, pulled due to concerns that she was insufficiently loyal to President Donald Trump.
- Her resignation follows that of Elaine McCusker, the acting Pentagon comptroller who had her nomination to a permanent position pulled after emails surfaced where she raised questions about the legality of suspending military aid to Ukraine, an issue at the heart of Trump’s impeachment.
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Kathryn Wheelbarger, a top Pentagon official who had her nomination for a permanent senior position pulled by the White House, resigned Thursday, making her the second Pentagon official to resign this week under these circumstances.
Wheelbarger, who has been serving as the acting assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, was nominated in February to become the deputy under secretary of defense for intelligence and security, but last Friday, the White House suddenly announced plans to nominate Bradley Hansell to the position.
Wheelbarger’s resignation was first reported by Reuters and confirmed by Politico. The latter reported that the White House had soured on her as a nominee because there were questions about whether or not she was sufficiently loyal to the president, particularly because of her ties to late Sen. John McCain and former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis.
In her resignation letter, she reportedly urged her colleagues at the Pentagon to “continue to be guided by the US Constitution and the principles of our founding, which ensure both our security and our freedom.”
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper confirmed Wheelbarger’s resignation in a statement Thursday afternoon, writing that she “brought a wealth of experience and the utmost professionalism to the Department throughout her service.”
The secretary had supported Wheelbarger’s nomination, Axios reported Sunday, revealing that the White House overruled him as it moved forward with a post-impeachment loyalty purge that has claimed Pentagon officials and several inspectors general.
Wheelbarger’s resignation comes two days after Elaine McCusker, the acting Pentagon comptroller, resigned.
She had been nominated to be Pentagon’s comptroller and chief financial officer, but her nomination was dropped in March after internal emails showed her repeatedly raising questions about President Trump’s decision to freeze $250 million in military aid to Ukraine.
While the Trump administration argued that it withheld the aid to Ukraine to push the country to do more to combat corruption, multiple witnesses testified that the president used the aid as leverage to encourage Ukraine to launch politically-motivated investigations against his rivals.
The House of Representatives impeached Trump in December for abuse of power and obstruction, but the Senate acquitted him in February.
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Following McCusker’s resignation, Esper, who had also reportedly supported her nomination only to be overruled, spoke highly of her, writing that he is “grateful for her dedication to public service and the contributions that she has made to the department.”