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Pentagon Chief Reverses Decision to Withdraw Troops from D.C. Amid Protests

HeadlineJun 04, 2020

At the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Mark Esper broke with President Trump and said active-duty military troops should not be deployed to quell the ongoing protests.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper: “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. We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.”

Esper said he also regretted urging governors on Monday to “dominate the battlespace” when dealing with protests. Early on Wednesday, Esper ordered the removal of some 200 active-duty soldiers with the 82nd Airborne who were deployed to Washington, D.C., but then reversed the pullout after what has been described as an angry meeting at the White House.

Meanwhile, President Trump’s former Pentagon chief James Mattis denounced Trump’s militarized handling of the protests. Mattis wrote, “Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort.”

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