A Surreal Scene In D.C.
- What President Trump thought would be a stirring photo-op descended into a gruesome spectacle Monday evening after police tear-gassed peaceful protesters demonstrating in Lafayette Park near the White House. All so President Trump could stroll over to St. John’s Episcopal Church to awkwardly pose with a Bible.
- Religious leaders condemned Trump’s photo-op at the historic church. A priest who was booted from the church’s property ahead of Trump’s appearance said the President “turned holy ground into a battleground.”
- Trump’s photo-op fiasco was followed by a night of unrest in the nation’s capital, with military helicopters hovering low to the ground in an attempt to disperse crowds of protesters. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq War vet and combat pilot, expressed alarm at the show of force. The use of military helicopters is now under investigation.
- The protests, it’s worth remembering, have spread across the country over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. This week, Minnesota Attorney General upgraded charges against one of the officers involved in Floyd’s death. Attorney General Keith Ellison also charged the other cops involved.
Esper In The Hot Seat?
- Defense Secretary Mark Esper notably broke with Trump on Wednesday, saying that he did not not support invoking the Insurrection Act to deploy military forces on American streets to quell unrest.
- In an interview with NBC News on Tuesday, Esper said he thought Trump was taking a group of administration officials to see a vandalized bathroom, not St. John’s church.
- Esper’s comments reportedly are not sitting well with the White House, leading to speculation that he may be the next Trump official on the chopping block.
- White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany did not exactly give Esper a rousing defense on Wednesday, saying “As of right now, Secretary Esper is still Secretary Esper” She added that if Trump loses confidence in Esper, the press will be “the first to know.”
Trump’s Former Defense Secretary’s Scathing Statement
- Gen. James Mattis, President Trump’s former defense secretary, issued a scathing statement Wednesday evening condemning Trump’s photo-op. Trump, predictably, lashed out at his former aide on Twitter.
- One of Trump’s staunchest congressional allies, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), came to the President’s defense Thursday and railed against Mattis’ statement. “It is so fashionable to blame President Trump for every wrong in America,” Graham said in an appearance on Fox News.
- Former White House chief of staff John Kelly, himself a retired Marine general, defended Mattis in an interview with the Washington Post on Thursday.