WASHINGTON — John C. Rood, the Defense Department’s top policy official, is the latest member of President Trump’s national security team involved in the Ukraine matter to leave the government.
Mr. Rood, the under secretary of defense for policy, will step down at the end of February, the department’s press secretary, Alyssa Farah, said Wednesday.
Mr. Rood was part of the team at the Defense Department that told Congress last year that Ukraine had made the necessary reforms to justify sending the country $250 million in promised security assistance. The certification was widely viewed as undermining a key argument Mr. Trump’s defense team made during his impeachment battle: that Mr. Trump withheld the aid because he was concerned about corruption in Ukraine.
Mr. Trump was impeached by the Democratic-controlled House but acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate. Since his acquittal, the president has moved swiftly to purge administration officials whose presentation of events did not align with his own.
Mr. Rood’s departure, reported earlier by CNN, was not entirely unexpected; he and Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper were known to clash frequently early in their careers, and Mr. Esper was expected to fire him when he became Defense Secretary last year. But the dearth of respected national security policy experts willing to work for Mr. Trump has made it difficult for administration officials to fill jobs.
James H. Anderson, the acting deputy under secretary of defense for policy, will be taking over Mr. Rood’s duties until a replacement is appointed by the president, the department said.