This morning, senior administration officials told the AP that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will step down from his post amid pressure from members of President Obama’s Cabinet. The Secretary submitted his resignation to President Obama this morning, and joins Attorney General Eric Holder as the latest high-profile member of the administration to willingly give up his post.
Things have rarely gone smoothly for Hagel, whose confirmation hearings did not go well and offered what many thought was a bad omen for his tenure in charge of the Pentagon. A Republican from Nebraska, Hagel endeared himself to Democrats when he changed positions and opposed the war in Iraq, and was widely perceived as an independent thinker unafraid to speak his mind.
However, there has been significant tension in the White House over foreign policy, particularly recently given the situation with ISIS. Some Obama advisers have been critical of Hagel for not being a more proactive voice in conversations about how to handle such crises, and over the last several weeks the Secretary and President have jointly “determined that it was time for new leadership in the Pentagon.”
Hagel will stay on until a new Secretary is confirmed. While an announcement of a nominee is not expected today, the perceived frontrunner is Michele Flournoy, the policy chief at the Pentagon during Obama’s first term who would be the first woman ever to hold the post.