The United States Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has been placed on thin ice with the White House after he announced that he would not be supporting the president's decision to deploy US troops in helping to control the ongoing protests in the wake of George Floyd's death.
Esper said that the troops should only be used to act as law enforcement as a last resort. He also noted from the Pentagon briefing room podium that the current situations do not reflect that kind of scenario.
The announcement has divided himself with President Trump after the US leader threatened to deploy the military to counter the protesters in the streets, as reported by CNN.
Separation of Pentagon and the White House
Esper told reporters that "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 that the United States is currently not in that type of situation right now, which leads him not to support the decision to invoke the Insurrection Act.
Multiple people described Esper's Wednesday briefing as being taken poorly by several parties at the White House and that his standing was already flimsy before he shared his perspective.
According to Politico, the White House spokesperson Kayleigh McEnanny did not comment on whether or not Trump was in good standing with Esper after the announcement. She added that as of the meantime, Secretary Esper is still the secretary of defense for the United States and that if the president should have a falling out with him is something we would learn in the future.
Citizens placed Esper under fire for his previous remarks that protests were considered to be a "battlespace" which led him to make his recent remarks. He was also severely criticized for taking part in a photo op with Trump that was held in front of St. John's Episcopal Church that authorities paved a way of protesters for.
Not in the loop
The defense secretary replied that he was not given information that there would be a photo op after the president has made his remarks in Rose Garden and that what he did know was that they would be reviewing the destruction that followed several nights of protests in the church as well as Lafayette Park.
Esper shared his thoughts that the photo op was not in the best taste considering the process that got them there, and he said: "Sometimes I am successful and sometimes I'm not as successful." He added that his objective has always been to keep a separation between the Pentagon and the political world.
Esper also noted that it took nearly a whole day for local authorities to figure out that the group of helicopters that were hovering at roof level, which brought debris and sending protesters into a panic, were from the District of Columbia National Guard. He added that the whole situation is currently under investigation, as reported by The New York Times.
When asked about his stance regarding the George Floyd case, Esper said that he considered it to be a "horrible crime" and added that racism does exist in the US. He noted that every single one of us must recognize the signs and do our utmost to face it head-on and exterminate it from society.
Esper said that the four officers involved with the incident that day should take responsibility for their actions and that it was a tragedy that has happened far too many times. He expressed his sympathy with the family and friends of Floyd as well as the department's similar stance.