Top Pentagon policy official expected to depart administration

By Jim Sciutto and Barbara Starr, CNN

    (CNN) -- The Pentagon's top policy official is expected to depart his post soon, according to two sources familiar with the matter. John Rood, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy at the Pentagon, lost support among senior national security leadership and has been asked for his resignation, one of the sources said.

Rood is the Pentagon's top policy official and oversees aspects of the Pentagon's relationship with US allies and partners. Rood was involved in certifying to Congress that Ukraine had embarked on significant reforms to justify its receipt of $250 million in security assistance. That certification undermined one of the justifications -- concerns about corruption in Kiev -- that some members of the Trump administration made to defend blocking aid to Ukraine.

Hours after Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which kicked off impeachment proceedings, Rood emailed Secretary of Defense Mark Esper -- who had been in the job two days -- informing him about an upcoming deputies meeting, "to discuss the President's concern about endemic corruption in Ukraine and his reported view that US should cease providing security assistance," according to emails reviewed by CNN.

Rood notes in his email to the secretary that "placing a hold on security assistance at this time would jeopardize this unique window of opportunity and undermine our defense priorities with a key partner in the strategic competition with Russia."

The Pentagon declined to comment on the expected departure.

As head of policy at the Pentagon, Rood helped oversee implementing the Trump administration's National Defense Strategy, which placed a greater emphasis on countering China and Russia, as well as overseeing the Nuclear Posture Review, which called for changes to the US nuclear arsenal, including the addition of new low-yield nuclear weapons.

Rood joined the administration in January 2018 serving under then-Defense Secretary James Mattis. He has had numerous policy jobs at the Pentagon in previous administrations and also previously worked for the CIA as an analyst. He has also held senior roles with major defense contractors Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.

This story has been updated with additional information.

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