Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has said during a news conference that he supports the rights of US citizens to protest peacefully and does not support the invocation of the Insurrection Act.
“It is these rights and freedoms that make our country so special. It is these rights and freedoms that American service members are willing to fight and die for,” Esper said in remarks before taking questions.
“I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.”
President Trump threatened to use the act to use the military to quell protests across the country. The Insurrection Act dates to the early 1800s and permits the president to send in US forces to suppress a domestic insurrection that has hindered the normal enforcement of US law.
Esper further said he was not informed about Trump’s controversial photo-op at a church which took place on Monday.
“I was not aware of law enforcement’s plans for the park. I was not briefed on them, nor should I expect to be,” Esper said.
The defence secretary also stated he was working hard to keep his department out of politics, though it is challenging as the country moves closer to elections.