Mark Esper. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Senate voted 90 to 8 on Tuesday to confirm Mark Esper as the new secretary of defense.

Why it matters: The Trump administration went a record 204 days without a Senate-confirmed defense secretary, following the resignation of James Mattis in December and the withdrawal of acting Pentagon chief Patrick Shanahan last month.

  • Throughout that period, the U.S. has seen a rising threat of military conflict in both Iran and Venezuela, with Iranian tensions in particular reaching new heights over the last few weeks in the Strait of Hormuz.
  • The U.S. military also remains actively engaged in Syria and Afghanistan, in addition to providing arms sales and having troops deployed in dozens of other countries around the world.

What to know: Esper is a veteran of the Gulf War and served as Trump's acting Army secretary. He worked as a policy staffer on Capitol Hill and later as a lobbyist for defense contractor Raytheon. During Esper's confirmation hearing, he declined to say that he would recuse himself from issues involving Raytheon after being grilled on his lobbying record by Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

  • Under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, Esper was prevented from serving as acting defense secretary while engaged in the Senate confirmation process. He will now replace Richard Spencer, who is the Trump administration's third acting defense secretary this year, per AP.

Of note: Of the eight Democrats who voted against Esper's confirmation, five are running for president. That includes Sens. Kamala Harris (Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Cory Booker (N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.). Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) did not vote.

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Trump's new TikTok threat

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump said twice Monday that the U.S. Treasury would need to get a portion of the sale price of TikTok, as a condition of regulatory approval.

Why it matters: This is akin to extortion — the sort of thing you'd expect to hear on a wiretap, not from the White House in front of reporters.

Ford names James Farley as new CEO amid ongoing turnaround effort

James Hackett, left, is retiring as Ford CEO. Jim Farley, right, takes over Oct. 1. Photo: Ford

Ford announced Tuesday that James Farley will take over as its next CEO, replacing James Hackett, 65, who is retiring after three years in the job.

Why it matters: It leaves Farley to complete the company's ongoing turnaround effort. The transition will be that much harder as the industry tries to navigate the coronavirus-induced economic slowdown which shuttered Ford plants for two months on the eve of some of its most important vehicle launches.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Watch the full "Axios on HBO" interview with President Trump

In this episode of “Axios on HBO”, President Trump discusses his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the upcoming election and much more with National Political Correspondent Jonathan Swan.

The interview was filmed on Tuesday, July 28 and aired Monday, Aug. 3 on HBO.