Top Senate Republican Backs Pentagon Chief In Opposing Military Use For Protests

Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-SD).Screengrab / PBS NewsHour / YouTube


Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-SD) said he agrees that the U.S. military should not be called on to quell protests.

Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-SD) said on Wednesday that he agrees with Defense Secretary Mark Esper that the military should not be brought in to quell ongoing protests, according to The Hill.

  • Thune was asked by reporters about Esper’s opposition to President Donald Trump potentially invoking the Insurrection Act of 1807 in response to the protests.

  • The GOP leader responded: “I think that these tasks ought to be relegated as much as possible to the state and local authorities, the law enforcement and police.”

  • Thune continued: “You got national guard in the states they can activate. I know there are instances in the past where they’ve had to call up active-duty personnel but I think the goal always is to de-escalate, not escalate. So my view is that’s the right call.”

  • He also said that “the Defense Department by and large ought to stay out of the political fray,” adding that the National Guard is “best suited for performing domestic support to civil authorities in these situations in support of local law enforcement.”

The Hill noted that Trump on Monday announced the possibility of introducing the U.S. military into the federal government’s response to the protests.

  • Trump said he would mobilize “all available federal resources, civilian and military, to stop the rioting and looting, to end the destruction and arson and to protect the rights of law-abiding Americans, including your Second Amendment rights.”

  • Esper responded saying such a move would be only a “last resort."

“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."

Protests against George Floyd’s death while in the custody of Minneapolis police began last week and continue across the United States.

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