Washington, D.C. – The United States’ highest-ranking officer, General Mark Milley, spoke privately with congressional leaders and many other lawmakers, after Pentagon authorities received strong criticism for the military’s role in containing the protests. after the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, called Milley, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Tuesday to express her concern about the issue, according to two people who were not authorized to speak publicly about the private conversations and to whom anonymity was guaranteed. That happened a day after law enforcement evicted protesters near the White House so President Donald Trump could have his picture taken at a nearby church. Milley and Defense Secretary Mark Esper were heavily criticized for accompanying Trump and thus giving the impression of supporting a politicization of the military.
Milley also discussed the matter with Democratic Senate Bloc leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday, another person said on condition of anonymity to discuss the situation. A third official said Milley had spoken to perhaps 20 or more members of Congress in the days after Monday’s photo shoot and Trump’s implicit threat to invoke the Insurrection Act to allow him to use federal troops to enforce the law in the capital of the nation and other cities.RELATED
Milley and Esper have tried to contain the damage to the image of the military after Monday’s walk with Trump. The federal authorities used tear gas and projectiles with irritating substances to remove the people who were protesting peacefully in a park so that the president and his entourage could walk to the church and that Trump could pose for a photo carrying a Bible.
On Friday night, Esper and Milley rejected a request by Democrats to appear before the House Armed Forces Commission next week.
“This is unacceptable,” the commission’s chairman, Democratic Rep. Adam Smith, and the panel’s 30 Democrats said in a statement Friday.
“Our military leaders have sworn to account to the people of this country, and Congress is the constitutional responsibility for oversight,” the Democrats wrote. “They must appear and testify on these crucial issues to fulfill that responsibility.”
An informal meeting with the Army secretary was also canceled Friday, according to an aide to Congress who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a matter that had not been publicly disclosed.