In a huge break with President Donald Trump, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said Wednesday that he does not support using active duty troops to stop the large-scale protests.
Esper spoke during a briefing at the Pentagon.
Defense Sec. Mark Esper holds Pentagon briefing amid severe criticism over protest comments. Watch live: https://t.co/BYFG4gNkf5
— ABC News (@ABC) June 3, 2020
He stated that those forces should only be used in a law enforcement role as a last resort. The comments came after Trump recently threatened to deploy the military to enforce order.
“The option to use active duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort, and only in the most urgent and dire of situations. We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.”
Esper also addressed the killing of Floyd, calling it a “horrible crime” and said “racism is real in America. He feels we must all do our very best to recognize it, to confront it, and to eradicate it.”
“The officers on the scene that day should be held accountable for his murder. It is a tragedy that we have seen repeat itself too many times. With great sympathy, I want to extend the deepest of condolences to the family and friends of George Floyd from me and the Department. Racism is real in America, and we must all do our very best to recognize it, to confront it, and to eradicate it,” he said.
I have called for Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, to testify before our committee to explain this domestic engagement to the American people. The fate of our democracy depends on how we navigate this time of crisis.
— Rep. Adam Smith (@RepAdamSmith) June 2, 2020
The fact that Esper’s is distancing himself from Trump’s edict that he would militarize the protests more is huge. It exposes a chasm in Trump’s strategy to use the military to restore order which reportedly went over poorly at the White House.
LOW IQ Secretary of Defense Mark Esper is a idiot!! I told him to send me the Army Men with the GREEN uniforms! But he sent ME the Army Men with the TAN uniforms! They have bayonets – But WHERE are their Bazookas?! I LOVE Bazookas!! And Flamethrowers! Very POWERFUL Flamethrowers!
— Donald J. Trump ……………………… ᵖᵃʳᵒᵈʸ (@realDonaldTrFan) June 3, 2020
According to reports, Trump and other top officials, including national security adviser Robert O’Brien, are “not happy” with Esper after his Wednesday remarks.
Trump announced from the Rose Garden that if state or city leaders refuse “to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents,” he will invoke the Insurrection Act.
Before y'all start clapping Mark Esper on the back for opposing trump's invoking the Insurrection Act, keep in mind he's pushing the LIE that tear gas and rubber bullets were NOT used against protesters.
WE. ALL. SAW. IT.
— BrooklynDad_Defiant! (@mmpadellan) June 3, 2020
It is an 1807 law that allows a president to deploy the US military to suppress civil disorder.
The White House has been reluctant to fire Esper given the climate of the country. Also the fact that there are only five months left before the election is a factor. However, Trump is notorious for letting his top officials languish in positions long after he’s lost confidence in them.
For months, Trump has been losing faith in Esper’s ability to lead the military. His avoidance of offering a defense of the President or his policies, is why according to multiple reports.