Defense Secretary: Trump Shouldn’t Invoke Insurrection Act to Quell Protests

Is Mark Esper's position a walk-back of presidential remarks, a sign of chaos, or insubordination? @ed_kilgore writes

6/3/2020 9:20:00 PM

Is Mark Esper's position a walk-back of presidential remarks, a sign of chaos, or insubordination? ed_kilgore writes

Mark Esper may be reflecting military leaders’ reluctance to be politicized by President Trump, who has floated sending military units to cities.

If the city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residence, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them. This was clearly a reference to the rare presidential option of invoking the Insurrection Act, the sole circumstance in which U.S. armed forces personnel can be deployed domestically in a law enforcement capacity (as opposed to the National Guard, which either governors or the president can send in, though under different rules). Trump had hinted at this in a call with governors earlier on Monday, in which he sounded (according to one participant) “unhinged.” Arkansas Republican senator Tom Cotton, always eager to bust heads and jail people, was publicly urging Trump to take this step, and White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters it was “one of the tools” at his disposal.

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So the announcement that Defense Secretary Mark Esper, overseer of the military units that would be involved in an Insurrection Act deployment, opposes such an action was jarring. The Hill reports:Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Wednesday he does not support invoking a law that would allow President Trump to use the U.S. military for domestic law enforcement amid nationwide protests surrounding the death of George Floyd….

“I’ve always believed and continue to believe that the National Guard is best suited for performing domestic support to civil authorities in these situations in support of local law enforcement,” Esper said at a news conference Wednesday.“I say this not only as secretary of Defense, but also as a former soldier and a former member of the National Guard, 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,” he added. “We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.”

Was this one of those walk-backs of presidential remarks that Trump’s minions are often called upon to perform, or a sign of chaos, or even insubordination? The initial signs do not indicate business as usual.Esper is likely under significant pressure from military leaders to restrain the president on this issue; many are deeply uncomfortable with the idea of troops being deployed domestically. That unease was reflected in a most unusual article in The Atlantic this week by retired admiral Mike Mullen, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Bush and Obama administrations:

I remain confident in the professionalism of our men and women in uniform. They will serve with skill and with compassion. They will obey lawful orders. But I am less confident in the soundness of the orders they will be given by this commander in chief….

Furthermore, I am deeply worried that as they execute their orders, the members of our military will be co-opted for political purposes.Even in the midst of the carnage we are witnessing, we must endeavor to see American cities and towns as our homes and our neighborhoods. They are not “battle spaces” to be dominated, and must never become so.

Read more: New York Magazine »

ed_kilgore No...It's self preservation: ...and a realization that if Trump 'commands' the military to do something and it goes horribly, stupidly wrong like the Kent State incident back in the 1970's, one of the first asses thrown under the bus will be his. ed_kilgore Who knows - all he done so far was tell us he's clueless and follows the walking Cheeto where ever it goes.

ed_kilgore It was totally nauseating. Fire him now!

Defense Secretary Esper on Trump church photo-op: 'I didn't know where I was going'In an exclusive interview, Esper also said he had “no idea” about the plan to use force to disperse protesters ahead of Trump’s staged visit to St. John’s Church. Into fascism, that where he was headed. If you don’t know where you’re going, maybe don’t just follow. So he will follow someone without any direction

Defense Secretary Esper on Trump church photo-op: ‘I didn’t know where I was going’NEW: Defense Sec. Esper asserts to NBCNews that he had no advance notice before Pres. Trump led him and other officials to St. John’s Episcopal Church for a photo-op: “I thought I was going to do two things: to see some damage and to talk to the troops' NBCPolitics Then he is stupid, a bad liar or both. Moron !

Defense secretary doesn't support deploying active troops following Trump threatDefense Secretary Mark Esper said he opposes sending active-duty troops to put down national protests after Trump threatened to do so That’s nice. Not his call. Trump’s call. When he’s President, he can make that call. Esper about to “retire’ in 3, 2, 1,....... I'm pretty sure everyone opposes it, including Trump. But at some point what else can you do?

Pentagon Adviser Resigns, Slams Defense Secretary Esper Over Trump Photo-Op'Where will you draw the line, and when will you draw it?' James N. Miller, a former defense official, wrote in his resignation letter to Esper. Very few in this administration have any backbone. Glad to see a few stand up to the trump tyranny. Vote blue all the way in November Wow - there still is hope. - courage !

Defense Secretary Says He 'Didn't Know' He Was Going With Trump To Photo-Op“I thought I was going to do two things: to see some damage and to talk to the troops,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper told NBC News. All power to the people!

Former Defense official resigns from Pentagon post, slams Esper for role in Trump photo opIn an extraordinary resignation letter, provided to The Washington Post, a Pentagon official resigned citing Secretary of Defense Mark Esper's role in President Donald Trump's photo op. Don is the next, resign! lookner RIP David Dorn DavidDorn