Defense Secretary Mark Esper was sacked by President Donald Trump on Monday, following recent speculation that his time as the top Pentagon official was drawing to a close. The announcement on Twitter came Monday following whisperings of Esper's potential resignation last week.
"The abrupt firing of Secretary Esper is disturbing evidence that President Trump is intent on using his final days in office to sow chaos in our American Democracy and around the world", said House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
It follows a public falling-out between Mr Trump and Mr Esper in recent weeks.
US President Donald Trump has fired Defence Secretary Mark Esper, a stunning and unprecedented move at a time of national uncertainty about the outcome of Trump's bid for a second term.
Esper's increasingly tense relationship with Trump led him to prepare a letter of resignation weeks ago, an attempt to fashion a graceful exit in the widely expected event that the President chose to fire him, several defense sources, including one senior defense official, told CNN.
In a tweet this evening, Trump said that Esper had been "terminated" although he thanked him for his service.
Miller, who previously spent 31 years in the US military, had been sworn in as the director of the National Counterterrorism Center in August.
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"I see my generals, generals who are going to keep us so safe", Trump said in January 2017, just hours after he'd been sworn in, describing them as straight out of "central casting".
Democrats reacted with alarm, saying Trump's move sent a unsafe message to America's adversaries and dimmed hopes for an orderly transition as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office.
Trump's first defence secretary, James Mattis, lasted until December 2018 before his departure, which was hastened by disagreements over US policy in Syria.
"We are not in one of those situations now".
The June civil unrest initially drew Esper into controversy when he joined a Trump entourage that strolled from the White House to nearby St. John's Episcopal Church for a photo op featuring Trump hoisting a Bible. Meadows soon afterward appeared on television and attempted to walk back Trump's comments, saying his broadside against the Pentagon's leaders had not been directed at anyone in particular.
For months, Mr Trump and Mr O'Brien had been frustrated by Mr Esper's tendency to avoid offering a full-throated defence of the President or his policies, the administration officials said.