Bloomberg: Trump Confronted Defense Secretary Over Protest Comments
President Donald Trump confronted Defense Secretary Mark Esper after Esper “publicly opposed the idea of deploying the military to contain protests,” reported Bloomberg.
On Monday, “Trump had threatened to send military forces to cities and states that fail to quell violence spiraling from protests” over the death of George Floyd in police custody.
Esper told reporters at the Pentagon that using “active-duty military forces to perform law enforcement within the U.S. is ‘a matter of last resort’ and that the National Guard was better-suited to the task.”
The secretary also reminded that “Every member of this department has sworn an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America,” which includes “the five freedoms of speech, religion, press, assembly and the right to petition the government.”
After making these comments, “Esper met with Trump in the Oval Office,” and “the president later asked top advisers if they thought Esper could still be effective in his position,” two people familiar with the conversation told Bloomberg.
In addition, Esper has made other comments that “generated irritation at the White House.”
For example, regarding Trump’s controversial photo op in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church, Esper “appeared to back away from his boss by saying that while he knew he would be joining Trump to walk into Lafayette Square,” he “was not aware of specific plans.”
In response to this, “three Trump aides who asked not to be identified said the secretary should have moderated his comments to draw less of a distinction with the president.”
At a recent press conference,“the president’s press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, tiptoed around whether Esper’s job was safe,” Bloomberg noted.