Feb 19, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Pentagon policy chief resigns amid reported discord with Trump

John Rood. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

John Rood, the Pentagon's top policy official, will resign from his post on Feb. 28, CNN first reported and President Trump confirmed.

The state of play: CNN said Rood "was perceived as not embracing some of the changes in policy the White House and senior Pentagon officials wanted," such as peace talks in Afghanistan with the Taliban and a decision to cut back on military exercises with South Korea as the president courted North Korea's Kim Jong-un.

  • He certified to Congress last year that corruption reforms in Ukraine allowed the delivery of $250 million of security assistance that ultimately formed the basis of Trump's impeachment.
  • Rood emailed Defense Secretary Mark Esper in the hours after Trump's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to state that "placing a hold on security assistance at this time would jeopardize this unique window of opportunity and undermine our defense priorities with a key partner in the strategic competition with Russia," reports CNN.

What they're saying: "I would like to thank John Rood for his service to our Country, and wish him well in his future endeavors!" President Trump tweeted Wednesday.

  • "John has played a critical role on a wide range of DoD issues including modernizing our nuclear deterrence capability, efforts to increase burden sharing by our NATO allies, our Missile Defense Review and implementing the National Defense Strategy. I wish him all the best in his future endeavors," Esper said in a statement.

Go deeper

Pro-Trump warrior takes the helm of U.S. intelligence

Richard Grenell in Berlin. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

By picking Ambassador Richard Grenell to be acting director of national intelligence, President Trump has slotted a pro-Trump warrior into the ultimate apolitical role.

What they're saying: James Clapper, the longest-serving DNI (2010-2017), tells Axios it's "very worrisome installing a partisan with no real intelligence experience in this position."

U.S. and Taliban announce first step in Afghanistan peace process

Photo: Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images

The State Department confirmed Friday morning the U.S. and Taliban have "reached an understanding" that starts a 7-day "reduction of violence" to be followed by a signed U.S.-Taliban agreement.

Why it matters: The Afghanistan war is the longest war in U.S. history. President Trump has previously pulled out of talks at the last minute, only to restart them.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Feb 21, 2020 - World

North Korea fires projectiles into sea, South Korean military says

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un with members of his military in North Korea in 2017. Photo: STR/AFP via Getty Images

North Korea "fired two unidentified projectiles into the East Sea" near the city of Wonsan Monday, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said, per Yonhap News Agency.

Why it matters: It's the first such launch by North Korea this year and comes two months after White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien told Axios that President Trump had "reached out" to Pyongyang to ask them to resume stalled diplomatic talks.

Go deeper: Kim Jong-un announces end to moratorium on nuclear weapon tests