twists and turns

Esper reverses decision to send troops home from D.C. after reportedly angering White House

June 3, 2020

Defense Secretary Mark Esper had a topsy-turvy Wednesday.

Early in the day, Esper said he didn't didn't think nationwide protests against police brutality warranted invoking the Insurrection Act, in contrast to President Trump's apparent willingness to deploy active-duty military to aid city police forces. The Pentagon was also prepared to send about 200 troops on standby in the Washington, D.C., area back to their home bases Wednesday, with the remaining forces ready to head home in the next few days if things remained calm. But the secretary's comments and the department's decision to send even a portion of the troops home apparently angered the White House.

After a meeting at the White House, Esper reversed the decision, so the troops will stick around the capital. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said it remains "our intent at this point not to bring in active forces, we don't think we need them at this point," but he added that it's "prudent to have the reserve capability in the queue, on a short string."

It's unclear if Esper met directly with Trump before he reversed the decision, The Associated Press reports. Tim O'Donnell