White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany voiced tepid support for Defense Secretary Mark Esper, after he stated Wednesday that he did not support invoking the Insurrection Act, which would allow active-duty troops to act in domestic law enforcement roles.
Esper called the president’s confidence of him into question, after he said during a press conference:
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.
According to Bloomberg News, the administration had not talked about invoking it recently. Still, Esper’s statement undermined the deterrence of the president’s warnings that he would deploy active duty forces to respond to riots if necessary, especially since Trump had ordered active-duty forces to the Capitol-region on Monday to use if necessary.
Asked whether Esper had ever expressed his views about the Insurrection Act in private, McEnany said that she was not aware of him doing so — which would be a rare instance of the Pentagon chief taking a policy stance on its own, at least without running it by the president.
“With regard to whether the President has confidence, I would say: If he loses confidence in Secretary Esper, I’m sure you all will be the first to know,” she said.
“As of right now, Secretary Esper is still Secretary Esper. And should the President lose faith, we will all learn about that in the future,” McEnany said.