WASHINGTON — The White House is reportedly set to select Anthony Tata, a retired Army general and Fox News commentator, as its choice to be undersecretary of defense for policy.
The news, first reported by Bloomberg and confirmed by Politico, sets up a Trump administration loyalist and action novelist to take over the Pentagon’s top policy job, which is seen by experts as one of the most important positions in the building.
Tata would replace John Rood, who was pushed out of office in February.
Tata retired from the Army in 2008 as a one-star general. Per his biography, he spent 22 months as deputy commanding general to the 10th Mountain Division and Combined Joint Task Force 76 in Afghanistan, as well as serving as deputy director for operations and training within the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, which was born from the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organization.
Since leaving the military, Tata authored of a series of action novels, became a Fox New contributor and served as a state-level official in North Carolina. His LinkedIn profile lists him currently as chief growth officer at Air Data Solutions, a company specializing in aerial photography.
In his role as a Fox News pundit, Tata was an ardent supporter of President Donald Trump, including offering praise for Trump’s support of Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, who had been accused of war crimes.
Should Tata get a hearing with the Senate Armed Services Committee before the November election, he would likely face tough questions from Democrats, not just about his public stances but about his history.
However, a hearing is no sure thing, given the long timetables seen in the Trump administration for nominations as well as the short time period available for the Senate to get things done in 2020.
The News & Observer paper, based in North Carolina, published a 2015 piece about Tata, who was then serving as state transportation secretary, revealing that an Army investigation uncovered Tata committed adultery with “at least two” women while in uniform. Under military law, adultery is a criminal offense in cases where it brings discredit to the armed forces or undermines military order and discipline.
The N&O report also raised questions about a legal document, submitted by Tata to the court, which appeared to fake.
Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.