• President Donald Trump has said he is considering invoking the Insurrection Act of 1807 to try to quell violent protests. At least 17,000 National Guard troops are already deployed across the country.
• Several governors and military officials have expressed concern about the use of troops in civilian areas. The Pentagon is reportedly distancing itself from Trump’s desire to send troops regardless of the states’ wishes.
• The Pentagon is now distancing itself from Trump’s desire to send troops regardless of state wishes, according to The Daily Beast.
Having backed President Donald Trump during a call to state governors, the Pentagon is increasingly distancing itself from his threats to mobilize troops to quell the violence that has emerged alongside some of the protests from the past week, according to The Daily Beast.
The president and Defense Secretary Mark Esper spoke with governors on Monday to urge them to request military assistance in the face of protests over the death of George Floyd.
According to a call leaked to The Washington Post, Esper told governors that the National Guard “stands ready” to assist and urged states to “dominate the battlespace” of any protests that had turned violent.
Three unnamed Pentagon senior officials told The Beast that despite this call, they had not expected the president to act on it. They said Esper spoke mainly as a show of support to the president and had not expected a further deployment of troops.
As of Monday morning, 17,000 National Guard troops had been deployed in 23 states and Washington, DC. No state has requested federal assistance, however, subverting the normal process for domestic military intervention, Pentagon officials told The Beast.
Trump has also asked for detailed information on the kinds of military vehicles, including “tanks,” that could be deployed, Pentagon officials told The Beast.
A senior administration official said this didn’t necessarily mean Trump wanted to send tanks, The Beast reported. “I think that is just one of the military words he knows,” the official reportedly said.
The rhetoric was amped up Tuesday, however, in a highly symbolic move when about 60 National Guard troops were stationed at the Lincoln Memorial in front of peaceful protesters.
Your Lincoln Memorial this evening. pic.twitter.com/QByGgWeDDm
— Martha Raddatz (@MarthaRaddatz) June 3, 2020
It followed a White House address Monday night in which the president declared himself the “president of law and order” and said he would invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807 if a state “refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents.”
Trump would try to use the Insurrection Act to make a unilateral decision to send in further troops, circumventing governors’ objections.
New York’s Attorney General Letitia James said she was willing to take the matter to court to resist troops, The Beast reported.
Pentagon officials are aware of at least three governors dealing with active protests who have privately pleaded with the department not to send troops, saying it would only inflame things further, The Beast reported. As of Tuesday morning, about 5,600 people had been arrested nationwide in the protests.
The revelation to The Beast reflects unease among some military leaders at the deployments.
One unnamed defense official told CNN that “there is an intense desire for local law enforcement to be in charge.” Army Maj. Gen. Thomas Carden, the adjutant general of the Georgia National Guard, said that while his troops were “honored” to be deployed, he said it was not a situation Americans should “get used to.”
Esper has also said he didn’t know where he was heading Monday when he accompanied the president to the now-infamous photo op at St. John’s Church, where peaceful protesters had been cleared moments earlier with tear gas.