Defense Secretary Esper at Odds With Trump Over How to Deal With Riots

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Posted: Jun 03, 2020 10:45 AM
Defense Secretary Esper at Odds With Trump Over How to Deal With Riots

Source: AP Photo/ Evan Vucci

Defense Secretary Mark Esper tried to clear up what he knew and what he didn't know about President Trump's walk to St. John's Episcopal Church on Monday. The historic church was set on fire the previous night by rioters. Secret Service reportedly cleared out a protest that had formed outside the White House in order for Trump to make his way across the street. Once Trump reached the church, he held up a Bible and took several photos with his staff.

Sec. Esper explained that while he was "aware" that President Trump planned to assess the damage in Lafayette Park and St. John's Episcopal Church, he did not know that a photo-op would be taking place. 

I do “everything I can to try to stay apolitical," he told press on Wednesday.

Esper also appears to be at odds with the president when it comes to how to best subdue the violent and deadly riots that are spreading throughout the nation since the tragic and shocking police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Trump said in his Rose Garden speech on Monday that he wants to unleash military force.

“The option to use active duty military should only be as a last resort," Sec. Esper said. "I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.”

The defense secretary added that he would personally be investigating why there were National Guard helicopters hovering above the protests in D.C. Tuesday night. Fox News reporter Kevin Corke caught the "company from above" on video. 

Corke also noted, however, that the nation's capital was much more peaceful on Monday than it was on Sunday night, when there was absolute mayhem. After President Trump's speech about the return to law and order, the atmosphere in D.C. was "night and day."

President Trump's message has been fairly consistent.