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Defense Secretary Mark Esper claims he had no idea where he was going when Trump led members of his administration on a walk to St. John's Episcopal Church for a controversial photo shoot. Washington (CNN)Secretary of Defense Mark Esper is on shaky ground with the White House after saying Wednesday that he does not support using active duty troops to quell the large-scale protests across the United States triggered by the death of George Floyd and those forces should only be used in a law enforcement role as a last resort. In the hour after his press conference ended, Esper was seen arriving at the White House alongside Milley and Attorney General Bill Barr. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper is on shaky ground with the White House after saying Wednesday that he does not support using active duty troops to … Outside the GOP lunch Wednesday, Republican Sen. Mitt Romney said that he hopes the President will listen to Esper's perspective, telling reporters: "I think Secretary Esper has the right to express his point of view, and the President does his, and I hope the President is willing to listen to the perspective of others and take that into account as he makes his decisions.". Click to get a sign-in link sent to your email. "It erodes the moral ground that ensures a trusted bond between men and women in uniform and the society they are sworn to protect, and of which they themselves are a part.". It’s not totally clear. A US official close to Esper and familiar with White House thinking said the secretary is being "skewered" by those inside the White House for coming out Wednesday to express his views. Sentiments inside the White House toward Esper had been gradually souring before this week's episode, with both Trump and O'Brien viewing Esper as not entirely committed to the President's vision for the military. "This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children," he said. O'Brien, in particular, has spoken to the President about Esper's television remarks, which the White House has viewed on repeated occasions as problematic or off-message. Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C., sets up a conflict—a false conflict— between the military and civilian society," Mattis added. Esper has had little influence and essentially takes his lead from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the source said, adding that this latest press conference will undoubtedly make things worse. "I think this is the end for him," they added. "I have serious concerns about using military forces to respond to protestors. On at least one occasion, O'Brien presented the President with print-outs that compare his own public remarks on a topic to those of Esper to highlight the contrast. International Business Times - AU Edition, By clicking "OK" or continuing to use this site, you agree that we may collect and use your personal data and set All rights reserved. Mattis had avoided attacking the President in his public remarks since resigning in December 2018, claiming he owes the Trump administration a "duty of silence.". "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. Mark Esper. Trump TV? Asked if he still has confidence in Esper as Defense Secretary, Rep. Mac Thornberry, the top Republican on the House Armed Services simply answered: "yes.". Why did Secretary Esper invite an accused war criminal to the Pentagon? This may be the President's next act, Is this the strongest US economy in history? I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act," he told reporters. As tear gas wafted through the air in Lafayette Park across from the White House, Trump announced from the Rose Garden that if state or city leaders refuse "to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents," he will invoke the Insurrection Act, an 1807 law that allows a president to deploy the US military to suppress civil disorder. Late Wednesday night, three sources told CNN that Esper will stay on the job for now. please read our, Sen. Tester urges Pentagon to halt new Tricare fees that are set to rise soon for many military families, Israel To Get Direct Access To SBIRS Sats & More F-35 Capabilities; Esper Visiting, Secretary Michael R. 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One person suggested the White House was reluctant to fire Esper given the current crisis and the fact that there are only five months left before the election. © Copyright 1997 - 2020 NewsNow Publishing Limited. He vented about Esper at length during a recent weekend at Camp David, according to multiple sources. Later, Wednesday Esper's predecessor, former Defense Secretary James Mattis. Trump has privately expressed frustrations with Esper in recent weeks, which aides believe would likely be accelerated by his comments about the ongoing nationwide protests. Read all news including political news, current affairs and news headlines online on Defence Secretary Mark Esper today. Asked about his use of the word "battlespace" when discussing quelling violence on the streets amid civil unrest, Esper attempted to explain that it was "something we use day in and day out ... it's part of our military lexicon that I grew up with ... it's not a phrase focused on people.".