Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s remarks on Wednesday morning — which broke with President Trump’s demand to invoke the Insurrection Act amid mounting protests nationwide in the wake of George Floyd’s death — reportedly did not sit well with the White House.
Earlier Wednesday, Esper said that active duty forces should only be used in a law enforcement role as a “last resort” and that he does not support invoking the Insurrection Act — a stark contrast from Trump’s call for governors to “dominate” protesters by activating the National Guard to quell the violence that has emerged from recent protests.
According to a CNN report on Wednesday, Trump and other top officials are “not happy” with Esper following his remarks, citing three people familiar with the White House’s thinking.
One White House official told CNN that aides were not given a heads up about the content of Esper’s remarks. Additionally, an official close to Esper and familiar with the White House’s thinking told CNN that the defense secretary is being “skewered” by other White House officials in reaction to his remarks at odds with Trump’s demands.
“(I’m) not sure who thought that was a good idea,” another official told CNN.
Axios similarly reported that Esper is in “precarious standing” with the White House, according to multiple sources.
Citing multiple sources, CNN also reported that Trump has privately fumed over his frustrations with his defense secretary recently, which included a recent weekend at Camp David.