The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee is calling on top Pentagon leadership to testify before the panel on President Trump’s recent decision to mobilize civilian and military forces to confront nationwide rioting.
The president on Monday night threatened to invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807 to deploy military troops to stop rioting if governors can’t restore order with National Guard troops.
Protests have erupted across the U.S. after the May 25 death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a white officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest in Minneapolis.
“The role of the U.S. military in domestic U.S. law enforcement is limited by law. It must not be used in violation of those limits and I see little evidence that President Trump understands this fundamental premise,” Chairman Adam Smith, Washington State Democrat, said in a statement Tuesday.
Before and while the president was making the announcement, police forces clashed with peaceful protesters within earshot of the White House with flash-bang devices and tear gas, clearing the way for Mr. Trump to make a dramatic visit on foot across Lafayette Park to the vandalized St. John’s Episcopal Church, which was set on fire Sunday night.
He hit back at Mr. Trump’s outing and said the president “used force to remove peaceful protestors to stage a photo opportunity.”
“Instead of taking a moment of silence in front of the historic St Johns’ Episcopal Church to pray for the lives lost he gathered his cronies to take a picture. Instead of doing the right thing, he once again did the absolute wrong thing,” Mr. Smith continued.
The congressman called on Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley to testify before the committee “to explain this domestic engagement to the American people.”
“The fate of our democracy depends on how we navigate this time of crisis.”
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