White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Monday said that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was not forced out of his position, despite reports that the Obama administration felt that Hagel “wasn’t up to the job.”
Earnest told reporters that Hagel and President Obama “arrived together” at the decision that Hagel would step down.
The press secretary wouldn’t say that Hagel was asked to leave, but that Hagel and Obama agreed that “another secretary might be better suited to meet” challenges like fighting the Islamic State.
Earnest also addressed Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) comment that Hagel was “very frustrated” with Obama. Earnest called McCain “less than impartial.”
The press secretary said that the White House has started considering replacements for Hagel, but he did not have a timeline for nominating a new secretary.