President Trump today tweeted that Under Secretary of Defense for Policy John Rood will be leaving his post.
"I would like to thank John Rood for his service to our Country, and wish him well in his future endeavors!" Trump tweeted.
In his resignation letter to Trump, Rood reveals that the president directed his departure.
"It's my understanding from Secretary Esper that you request my resignation from serving as Under Secretary of Defense for Policy,” Rood wrote. “Senior administration officials appointed by the president serve at the pleasure of the president, and therefore, as you have requested, I am providing my resignation effective February 28, 2020.”
Rood will be succeeded by James Anderson, the current senior official performing the duties of the deputy under secretary of defense for policy.
"I would like to thank John Rood for his service to the department," Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in a separate statement. "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."
When asked what Rood did to incur Trump's displeasure, Jonathan Hoffman, the Pentagon's chief spokesman, said the law allows the president to "make a decision to go in a different direction." Hoffman did not elaborate further.
Rood, a former Lockheed Martin executive who has held the post since January 2018, played a role in the events leading up to Trump’s impeachment by the House.
Last May, Rood sent a memo to Congress certifying that Ukraine was eligible to receive $250 million in military assistance after having made sufficient progress on anti-corruption activities.
The aid, however, was temporarily blocked by the White House, an action that led to Trump's impeachment amid allegations that the money was used as leverage to force Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.
Trump was acquitted by the Senate earlier this month of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Following the acquittal, the president has removed government officials who testified during the House impeachment investigation, including Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland.
Meanwhile, there is an unconfirmed report from the New York Post that the nomination of Elaine McCusker to be Pentagon comptroller will be withdrawn.
McCusker continues to serve as the Pentagon's acting comptroller, but internal emails show McCusker opposed the White House decision to withhold the aid from Ukraine.