Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

President Trump formally nominated Army Secretary Mark Esper as secretary of Defense on Friday evening, Politico reports.

Why it matters: This comes after several months of leadership instability at the Pentagon. Earlier this week, acting Defense secretary Patrick Shanahan stepped down from his role. His resignation will become effective Sunday.

Details: Esper is an Army veteran who served in the Gulf War. He has been secretary of the Army since November 2017, worked on Capitol Hill and for defense contractor Raytheon. Under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, Esper cannot serve as acting Defense secretary while the Senate undergoes its confirmation process. Navy Secretary Richard Spencer is likely to be named the new acting secretary, per the Pentagon’s succession order.

Go deeper: Trump's temps

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Dave Lawler, author of World
5 mins ago - World

Special report: Trump's hopes of nuclear deal with Putin come down to the wire

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

A surprise offer from Vladimir Putin has the U.S. and Russia once again circling a potential pre-election nuclear deal.

The big picture: The last treaty constraining the U.S. and Russia, New START, is due to expire on Feb. 5, 2021, two weeks after the next U.S. presidential inauguration. For the first time since the height of the Cold War, the nuclear guardrails could come off.

The cliffhanger could be ... Georgia

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It hasn't backed a Democrat for president since 1992, but Georgia's changing demographics may prove pivotal this year — not only to Trump v. Biden, but also to whether Democrats take control of the Senate.

Why it matters: If the fate of the Senate did hinge on Georgia, it might be January before we know the outcome. Meanwhile, voters' understanding of this power in the final days of the election could juice turnout enough to impact presidential results.

Amy Harder, author of Generate
6 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Climate change goes mainstream in presidential debate

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty

The most notable part of Thursday’s presidential debate on climate change was the fact it was included as a topic and assumed as a fact.

The big picture: This is the first time in U.S. presidential history that climate change was a featured issue at a debate. It signals how the problem has become part of the fabric of our society. More extreme weather, like the wildfires ravaging Colorado, is pushing the topic to the front-burner.