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Esper Disagrees With Trump on Use of Insurrection Act

Defense chief says situation isn't dire enough
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 3, 2020 1:02 PM CDT

(Newser) – Breaking with President Trump, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Wednesday he opposes using military forces for law enforcement in containing current street protests. Esper said the Insurrection Act, which would allow Trump to use active-duty military for law enforcement in containing street protests, should be invoked in the United States "only in the most urgent and dire of situations," the AP reports. He declared, "We are not in one of those situations now." Invoking the Insurrection Act has been discussed as Trump has talked about using the military to quell violent protests in US cities. Esper has authorized the movement of several active-duty Army units to military bases just outside the nation's capital, but they have not been called to action.

Esper, in his Pentagon remarks, strongly criticized the actions of the Minneapolis police for the incident last week that ignited the protests. He said that when he walked with Trump and others from the White House to St. John's Church Monday, he "was not aware a photo-op was happening" and did not know police had forcibly moved peaceful protesters out of the area. Just before Esper spoke, Trump took credit for a massive deployment of National Guard troops and federal law enforcement officers to the nation's capital, saying it offered a model to states on how to stop violence accompanying some protests nationwide. "You have to have a dominant force," Trump told Fox News Radio on Wednesday. “We need law and order."

(Read more Mark Esper stories.)

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