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Mark Esper confirmed by Senate as defense secretary, sworn into office

Mark Esper sworn in as defense secretary

The Senate voted to confirm President Trump's pick to lead the Department of Defense, Mark Esper. The Senate overwhelmingly voted 90-8 to confirm him.

Esper, who had been serving as Army secretary, is now expected to be successfully installed as the Pentagon's newest chief — replacing acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, who withdrew his name from consideration after reports of domestic violence incidents involving his family surfaced.

The Pentagon has been without a Senate-confirmed leader since December, when former Secretary James Mattis stepped down following Mr. Trump's decision to withdraw troops from Syria.

Mark Esper
Mark Esper, left, is sworn in as the Secretary of Defense by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, right, as is wife Leah Esper holds the Bible, during a ceremony with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington on Tue., July 23, 2019. AP

Esper has served as Army secretary since November 2017. A West Point classmate of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, he served as an Army infantryman in the 1990-91 Gulf War and commanded an airborne rifle company in Europe. His service earned him a Legion of Merit and Bronze Star. Esper then served in the Army Reserve and both the Virginia and District of Columbia National Guard before retiring in 2007.

Before serving as Army secretary, Esper most recently served as a lobbyist for the defense contractor Raytheon.

Esper was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito the White House later Tuesday.

"He's going to be a great one," Mr. Trump said during the ceremony.

Esper thanked the president, and cited his own "commitment to duty, honor and country."

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