just passing through
Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley were walking with President Trump when he posed for a photo-op in front of the historic St. John's Church in Washington, D.C., on Monday, shortly after police dispersed peaceful protesters in the surrounding area with tear gas and flash grenades. Now, a senior defense official claims Esper and Milley weren't aware police had cleared the area prior to Trump's arrival, PBS Newshour reports.
Moreover, the official said Esper and Milley didn't know Trump was going to get his picture taken in front of the church; they thought they were headed outside the White House "to review efforts to quell the protests" against police brutality.
Despite Trump threatening to call in the military to supplement city police across the country, the defense official said the Pentagon isn't keen on deploying any troops, and that Esper referring to demonstration sites as a "battlespace" was merely jargon used to discuss the situation.
Nevertheless, Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) wants both Milley and Esper to testify about the possible role the military played in clearing the protesters, even though he was told it was not involved.