Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson may be out after the midterm elections after irritating President Trump for how she managed his instructions to establish a separate Space Force in the U.S. military, according to a new report.
Wilson is perceived to be thwarting the creation of the Space Force and has irked Trump and Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan as a result, sources told Foreign Policy.
One source familiar with the situation told the outlet that the Trump administration is convinced that Wilson “is trying to undermine this part of the president’s agenda from within.”
Additionally, the administration is reportedly weighing potential candidates who could take over for her, including Rep. Mike Rogers. The Alabama Republican has historically been outspoken about establishing a military branch dedicated to space.
Wilson publicly appeared to be on board with the Trump administration’s Space Force initiative when it was formally unveiled in August.
“If we’re going to do this, let’s propose to do it right,” she said on Sept. 5. “Let’s have this debate, support the president’s proposal and put it forward — and make sure that we don’t do this with half-measures.”
But Wilson vexed the White House by submitting a memo to Shanahan outlining requirements for a Space Force and projecting that an additional 13,000 people and $13 billion were needed over the course of five years. Critics argued the estimates were significantly inflated.
“By the time [the administration] got this most recent memo with the cost estimate, they’d kind of already had it with her and the Air Force on this, and it just put them over the top,” the first source said of the White House’s reaction.
Although Shanahan told Foreign Policy that “I rely on Secretary Wilson’s advice and counsel,” anonymous sources said the two have a strained relationship and that Wilson may have no other option but depart after the midterms.
The Air Force declined to provide comment to Foreign Policy.