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Photo: Getty Images

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.

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.

  • 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.
  • 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

Go deeper

Updated 36 mins ago - Axios Twin Cities

In photos: Thousands rally for George Floyd ahead of Derek Chauvin's trial

Demonstrators on March 7 outside the Hennepin County Government Center, where the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, charged with murdering George Floyd, will begin in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Thousands of protesters marched through Minneapolis' streets Sunday, urging justice for George Floyd on the eve of the start of former police officer Derek Chauvin's trial over the 46-year-old's death, per AFP.

The big picture: Chauvin faces charges for second-degree murder and manslaughter over Floyd's death last May, which ignited massive nationwide and global protests against racism and for police reform. His trial is due to start Monday, with jury selection procedures.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
4 hours ago - Health

Pfizer CEO feels "liberated" after taking COVID vaccine

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla tells "Axios on HBO" that he recently received his first of two doses of the company's coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: Bourla told CNBC in December that company polling found that one of the most effective ways to increase confidence in the vaccine was to have the CEO take it.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
4 hours ago - Economy & Business

Ripple CEO: SEC lawsuit is "bad for crypto" in the U.S.

Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse tells "Axios on HBO" that if his company loses a lawsuit brought by U.S. regulators, it would put the country at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to cryptocurrencies.

Between the lines: The SEC in December sued Ripple, and Garlinghouse personally, for allegedly selling over $1.3 billion in unregistered securities. Ripple's response is that its cryptocurrency, called XRP, didn't require registration because it's an asset rather than a security.