President Donald Trump confronted his Defense secretary, Mark Esper, after the Pentagon chief publicly opposed the idea of deploying the military to contain protests, according to people familiar with the matter.
Separately, the president later asked top advisers if they thought Esper could still be effective in his position, two people familiar with the discussions said on Wednesday night.
In a news conference within the afternoon, the president’s press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, tiptoed around whether Esper’s job was safe, saying just that he remained in their post.
Neither the White House nor the Pentagon immediately responded to requests for discuss Wednesday night.
Esper met with Trump inside the Oval Office after telling reporters on the Pentagon that active-duty military forces to do law enforcement within the US is “a case of last resort” which the National Guard was better-suitable for the process.
On Monday, Trump had threatened to deliver military forces to cities and states that forget to quell violence spiraling from protests across the death in Minneapolis a week ago of your black man in police custody.
The defense chief also appeared to back from his boss by praoclaiming that when he knew he could be joining Trump simply to walk into Lafayette Square ahead of the presidential residence on Monday, he was unaware of specific plans, including what might happen when the group reached St. John’s Episcopal Church.
Trump is criticized by religious leaders and Democrats, along with some Republicans and former military officials, for your vacation to the historic church, where he stood briefly holding up a Bible after security forces cleared peaceful protesters through the area using pepper smoke and balls cannisters.
Esper said at the Pentagon on Wednesday that he thought he would be reviewing damage in the plaza and at the church, but wasn’t briefed on a specific plan since he was called back to the White House after heading toward a command center at the Department of Justice.
“I did know we had been going to the church. I did not know an image op was happening,” Esper said.
His remarks generated irritation on the White House, where three Trump aides who asked to not be identified said the secretary must have moderated his comments to draw a lesser distinction together with the president.
Later Wednesday, a blistering denunciation of Trump by his first Defense secretary, Jim Mattis, was authored by The Atlantic.