The White House wanted to have 10,000 active duty troops on the streets of
Washington and other cities earlier this week to quell protesters, but Secretary of
Defense Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint of Chiefs of Staff General Mark
Milley pushed back at the use of any active duty troops, according to a senior
defense official, reports CNN.
After violence in Washington DC, along with a militarized law enforcement presence,
Milley held phone calls over two days with President Donald Trump's arch political
enemies, the Democratic leaders of Congress. A defense official also confirmed a
call with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
While the exact discussions with the Democratic congressional leaders have not
been disclosed, by Monday night Milley had already had tense words with Trump
that active duty military troops against protesters in DC was absolutely not needed
despite the President's threats, several officials confirmed.
The second defense official said despite a Saturday White House statement of
support for Esper, both men remain aware they are at risk of Trump's ire and there is
always the possibility their jobs are at risk.
The outreach to Congress is part of a broader effort by both men to explain their
actions and try to move forward in the face of massive personal criticism from former
colleagues and members of Congress. So far, the Pentagon has not agreed to a
request for them to testify before the House Armed Services Committee.
Esper this week told reporters he tries to stay out of political events but knows he
doesn't always succeed. Milley has not yet spoken publicly about the walk with the
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