Did he jump or was he pushed?
Officially, Chuck Hagel has resigned as US Defence Secretary after less than two years in the job – in a move confirmed by President Obama at the White House.
The president heaped praise on Hagel, a Vietnam war veteran and former Republican senator.
“There is one thing I know about Chuck,” Obama told a joint news conference.
“He does not make this or any decision lightly. This decision does not come easily to him. But I consider myself extraordinarily lucky to have had him by my side for two years and I am grateful that Chuck has agreed to stay on until I nominate a successor.”
But US media reports tell a different story – suggesting that President Obama had lost confidence in his defence secretary amid differences over strategy in Syria and against ISIL militants.
According to The New York Times:“Administration officials said that Mr. Obama made the decision to remove Mr. Hagel, the sole Republican on his national security team, last Friday after a series of meetings between the two men over the past two weeks”.
This is the first major change to the president’s Cabinet since his Democrats were routed in this month’s midterm elections.