The New York Times reports that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is set to resign “under pressure” from the White House. President Barack Obama is expected to announce the decision (and perhaps even his replacement) in a Rose Garden speech Monday at 11:10 AM Eastern Time.
There appear to be conflicting reports of whether or not Hagel was fired or whether his departure was mutual. One White House aide tells the Times that Hagel “initiated discussions about his future two weeks ago with the president.”
On the other hand, Hagel aides say the defense secretary fully expected to serve a full four-year term. NBC News quotes anonymous senior defense officials, who say that Hagel was indeed forced out, with one saying bluntly, “He wasn’t up to the job.”
Hagel was a controversial pick from before the beginning of his short tenure. Despite being a former Republican senator, Republicans in the Senate raised serious concerns about the nominee after a poor performance at his nomination hearing and earlier questionable comments about the influence of the “Jewish lobby.” In the end, he was confirmed with only four Republican votes. (RELATED: Hagel Gets Testy With Lawmaker Over Bergdahl: ‘I Don’t Like The Implication Of The Question’)
Most recently, Hagel was in the news after a leaked memo showed he was sharply critical of the Obama administration’s handling of Syria. In a CBS interview last Wednesday, Hagel went even further, saying bluntly that Syrian dictator Bashar Assad was “indirectly benefitting” from U.S. policy against ISIS.