Secretary Esper: 'I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act'

The Secretary of Defense dismissed the idea of utilizing the act that allows the President to deploy the military to quash rebellion

Last Updated:
June 3, 2020 - 10:46am

During a series of remarks made Wednesday morning, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said that he does "not support invoking the Insurrection Act" as a way to quell the riots that have overtaken cities across the country in the wake of George Floyd's death. 

In the wake of the riots, President Trump suggested that he may deploy the U.S. military to cities that need help protecting their citizens and infrastructure, which began a discussion of whether or not he would invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807. 

"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 situation. We are not in one of those situations now."

In response to a question about his visit alongside the president to St. John's church on Monday evening, the Secretary said, "my aim is to keep the department out of politics."

"I do everything I can to try and stay apolitical ... sometimes I'm successful at doing that and sometimes I'm not as successful," continued the Secretary. 

In an interview on Tuesday evening, Esper told NBC News that he didn't know that the plan on Monday evening was to visit St. John's church, which had been torched by rioters the night before. "I didn't know where I was going, I wanted to see how much damage actually happened," said Esper. "I thought I was going to do two things: to see some damage and to talk to the troops."

A spokesperson for the Pentagon later contradicted Esper's statement by saying that the Secretary was aware that the church was one of the locations the presidential walking party would be visiting. The Secretary was unaware, however, that the president was going to take pictures by the church.

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