The Pentagon's top policy official is out, and his resignation comes at the president's request. In a letter penned by Under Secretary of Defense for Policy John Rood on Wednesday and obtained by CNN, Rood writes, "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." Bloomberg's sources say "some senior national security officials had lost confidence in Rood’s ability to carry out Trump’s agenda," and CNN's sources describe instances in which Rood's position was in opposition with that of the administration, for instance, his skepticism about peace talks with the Taliban. But Rood's dealings with Ukraine are getting particular attention.
The AP reports Rood was the one who in a May 23 letter to Congress certified that Ukraine had made adequate progress on "institutional reforms" intended to reduce corruption, and that as such, aid should be released to the country. The withholding of that aid factored heavily into Trump's impeachment. Rood told reporters he was "aware that the aid had been held" but "never received a very clear explanation other than there were concerns about corruption in Ukraine." On the day of Trump's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Rood emailed Defense Secretary Mark Esper to express his concern about putting a hold on the aid. As for his soon-to-be-vacated position, "one of the most important at the Pentagon," per Bloomberg, Deputy Under Secretary James Anderson will temporarily fill it. (Read more Pentagon stories.)