Amidst all the tension this week, it's worth stepping back for a minute to remember that President Trump doesn't have a permanent secretary of defense.
- Trump said today that he called off yesterday's retaliatory strike against Iran upon learning about its expected death toll compared to zero casualties for an unmanned drone.
- New this afternoon: Trump is expected to nominate soon-to-be acting Secretary Mark Esper — who was the secretary of the Army until acting Secretary Patrick Shanahan dropped out of the confirmation process — in the near future, the N.Y. Times reports.
Why it matters: Running the Pentagon is no small task for a permanent, seasoned chief. It's a huge undertaking for a temp, the AP reminds.
- Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer: “With everything going on in Iran and all the provocations and counteractions, and to have no secretary of defense at this time is appalling ... It shows the chaos in this administration. They have so many empty positions, revolving doors, in the most sensitive of security positions.”
What's next: "For the moment both Shanahan and Esper have been attending White House and other meetings and taking part in debates over how to respond to Iran’s destruction of the drone," the AP notes.
The bottom line: "The law prohibits Esper from being nominated for the job while also serving as acting secretary. If he is nominated, he’ll have to step down and move to another job until the Senate votes on his confirmation. So that would mean yet another acting secretary meantime."
Go deeper: How Trump and Iran got to the brink of war