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International

Cracks in Trump admin over response to unrest Defence Secy Differs With Prez Over Use Of Troops

June 04, 2020 05:57 AM

COURTESY TOI JUNE 4

Cracks in Trump admin over response to unrest
Defence Secy Differs With Prez Over Use Of Troops
Chidanand.Rajghatta@timesgroup.com

Washington:

Cracks are starting to appear in the Trump administration and in the Republican Party after Tuesday’s fiasco involving President Trump’s use of the military to evict peaceful protesters in front of the White House so he could pose in front of a church with a bible in hand — and his eagerness to deploy army to contain civic strife.


US defence secretary Mike Esper and the military establishment have now made it known that they were virtually conned into accompanying Trump on his photo-op walkacross to the church opposite to the White House after protesters were dispersed with brute force. They have also conveyed they do not support deploying active duty troops.

“The option to use active duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort, and only in the most urgent and dire of situations. We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act,” Esper said during a briefing at the Pentagon, contradicting the president. The differences arose even as former president George Bush, at least four Republican Senators, and a former four-star general chastised Trump for his handling of the unrest and his use of the church and bible for a photoop as America burned with rage following the murder of a black man, George Floyd, by a white police officer, Derek Chauvin. A top policy official at the Pentagon also resigned.

“It remains a shocking failure that many African Americans are harassed and threatened in their own country. It is a strength when protesters, protected by responsible law enforcement, march for a better future. Those who set out to silence those voices do not understand the meaning of America ,” Bush said in a statement seen as critical of Trump, even though he didn’t mention the president by name.

Some Republicans were more direct. “There is a fundamental — a constitutional — right to protest, and I’m against clearing out a peaceful protest for a photo op that treats the Word of God as a political prop,” said senator Ben Sasse. Criticism also came from the military quarters after a shocking spectacle emerged of Mike Milley, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and the highest-ranking officer in the US armed forces, accompanying Trump on his church sortie. “It sickened me,” his predecessor Mike Mullen said.

Some White House aides, meanwhile, threw the president’s daughter Ivanka and adviser Hope Hicks under the bus for the church fiasco, leaking that the photo-op was their idea. Ivanka in fact carried the bible that Trump held aloft in what was described as a $1,540 MaxMara bag.

Trump, meanwhile, continued to rage against the protests on Twitter. In one tweet, he boasted that he had done more for black Americans than any president in US history with the “possible exception” of Abraham Lincoln

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