The nation’s top military officer, General Mark Milley, got into a ‘shouting match’ with President Donald Trump earlier this week after the president spoke of his wish to end the country’s riots and protests by sending in active military forces into American cities.
A senior military official alleges the pair argued loudly before Trump finally backed down.
Responding to Trump’s request to have troops on the ground in major U.S. cities where riots and protests were taking place, Gen. Milley is said to have stayed firm, responding: ‘I’m not doing that. That’s for law enforcement.’
The protests in Washington were among those nationwide following the death of Floyd, a black man who died when a white police officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes.
The President and the military’s most senior official General Mark Milley, pictured right, are said to have got into a row in the Oval Office over Trump’s demand for troops
Trump said he wanted to control protests by sending active military onto streets but Milley stood firm and said that the task was one for law enforcement, not soldiers
The official who is said to have overheard the row told the New Yorker, ”We have a bully in the White House, and a bully needs a bully.’
Milley is said to have stood up to his boss in the Oval Office on the subject of ordering troops out onto the street and suggested that the states should handle their own affairs alongside local law enforcement and the National Guard.
But it seems President Trump had a last laugh of sorts. Shortly afterwards, authorities ended up clearing protesters gathered outside the White House using tear gas so that Trump could hold a photo opportunity at a nearby church.
Milley and Defense Secretary Mark Esper were sharply criticized for accompanying Trump on the walkabout but both have since attempted to suggest that they were unaware what the president had been planning had had been caught off-guard.
Soon after the row, Trump managed to get Gen. Milley, along with Defense Secretary Mark Esper to participate in a photo shoot across from White House
Milley and Defense Secretary Mark Esper were sharply criticized for accompanying Trump on the walkabout but both have since attempted to suggest that they were unaware what the president had been planning
Moments before the shoot, peaceful protestors were moved from LaFayette park after being shot at with pepper bullets, smoke canisters and tear gas
In the photoshoot, it looked as though both were on board with Trump’s promise to dispatch soldiers.
But amid howls that he was making the US military Trump’s political tool, Esper reversed his position.
Aides said he had clumsily used the military jargon ‘battlespace’ out of habit, and suggested that Trump had effectively tricked Esper and Milley into joining the church photo-op.
Esper, who was widely criticized for using the phrase, later said that he regretted it.
Esper said firmly Wednesday that he opposed using active duty soldiers to deal with protestors.
President Trump secured photos of himself with Gen. Milley in uniform on streets of D.C.
Protestors peacefully protest penned in by police fencing minutes before riot police moved to clear them out of Lafayette Park and the area around it with tear gas, pepper spray and flash bang grenades for President Donald Trump to be able to walk through for a photo opportunity
‘The option to use active duty forces should only be used as a matter of last resort and only in the most urgent and dire of situations,’ he told reporters in the Pentagon.
‘We are not in one of those situations now.’
Milley has also tried to contain damage in the aftermath of Monday’s walkabout especially after it was revealed how Federal authorities ended up using smoke canisters and pepper balls to clear peaceful protesters from a park so the president and his entourage could walk to the church and Trump could pose with a Bible.
Esper told reporters Wednesday he was not aware of the operation to clear the park and did not know he was heading into a photo op.
Both Milley, right of Trump and Esper, far right, claim they did not realize where they were being taken and claim they thought they were going to inspect National Guard Troops
Milley and Esper have both released statements distancing themselves from the presidents show of force and Monday’s walkabout
A White House videographer films and White House chief photographer Shealah Craighead shoots pictures of U.S. President Donald Trump as a Secret Service officer stands guard during a photo opportunity in front of St John’s Church amidst ongoing protests over racial inequality
Esper told NBC, ‘I thought I was going to do two things: to see some damage and to talk to the troops.’
He also distanced himself from Trump’s threat to step up the military’s role in quelling protests, arguing against invoking the Insurrection Act, which would allow Trump to use active-duty troops in a law enforcement role.
‘I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act,’ Esper said, referring to the 1807 law Trump has wanted to use to activate armed military personnel for policing riot-hit cities.
Similarly, Milley is said to have believed that he was accompanying Trump to review National Guard troops and law enforcement stationed outsider the White House unbeknown that the area had been cleared by security forces using tear gas, according to the New York Times.
Police officers wearing riot gear ended up pushing back demonstrators shooting tear gas next to St. John’s Episcopal Church outside of the White House
Police officers clashed with protestors near the White House on Monday as demonstrations against George Floyd’s death continue
True enough photos from later in the photoshoot see Trump’s press secretary, defense secretary, national security adviser and attorney general present with Milley out of sight
President Donald Trump stands outside St. John’s Church across Lafayette Park with Defense Secretary Mark Esper, from left, Attorney General William Barr, White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany
One Defense Department official noted that once Milley realized what was happening, he quickly attempted to distance himself from the photoshoot.
True enough the photos see Trump’s press secretary, defense secretary, national security adviser and attorney general present with Milley later appearing out of sight.
Milley released a message this week to military leaders stating that the Constitution ‘is founded on the essential principle that all men and women are born free and equal and should be treated with respect and dignity’ and that it ‘also gives Americans the right to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly.’
Trump’s walkabout was defended on Thursday by US Attorney General Bill Barr.
‘The president is the head of the executive branch and the chief executive of the nation, and should be able to walk outside the White House and walk across the street to that church,’ Barr said.
President Donald Trump got the picture he wanted of himself holding a Bible outside St. John’s Episcopal Church, known as the church of Presidents’s, that was damaged by fire during demonstrations in nearby LaFayette Square Sunday evening
He told reporters the decision to clear the park and expand the fence perimeter around the White House had been made before Trump’s decision to go to the church, where he posed with a bible in his hand.
There was ‘no correlation’ between the two events, he said — though Trump would not have been able to walk to the church safely without the park being cleared.
‘I think it was appropriate for us to go over with him,’ Barr added. ‘I don’t necessarily view that as a political act.’
The vast majority of protesters have been peaceful, but Barr pointed to ‘extremist agitators who are hijacking the protests to pursue their own separate and violent agenda.’
US President Donald Trump poses with a bible at St. John’s Church across from the White House after the area was cleared of protesters