Secretary of Defense Mark Esper appeared to publicly distance himself from President Trump’s earlier remarks concerning the use of the U.S. military to suppress rioting that has gripped much of the nation following the death of George Floyd.
Appearing in front of reporters, the Pentagon chief said he is not in favor of invoking the Insurrection Act of 1807, an action Trump says he is considering.
Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer reports:
“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 situations,” Esper said. “We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.”
But Trump has suggested going a step further.
“If a city or a state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them,” he said Monday. Esper already has ordered military police active-duty troops from Fort Bragg and Fort Drum and a ready battalion from the 82nd Airborne to stage in the Washington, D.C. area at Maryland’s Andrews Air Force Base and Virginia’s Fort Belvoir.
Esper has also come under fire for his use of the term “battle space” when describing how governors should control protests. He stopped short of saying he regretted using that military terminology and claimed it was simply part of the military’s lexicon but that he was not referring to the protesters. “In retrospect, I would use a different word,” he said.
Do you believe Esper stepped out of line by publicly expressing his sentiment or is this reported contradiction overblown? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!
(Video H/T Bloomberg QuickTake News)