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Defense Secretary Mark Esper doesn't support invoking Insurrection Act

Posted at 10:46 AM, Jun 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-03 10:46:43-04

(WXYZ) — Defense Secretary Mark Esper does not support invoking the Insurrection Act, a law that would allow President Trump to use the U.S. military for law enforcement in the country.

Speaking at a press conference Wednesday, Esper said he believes the National Guard is better to handle situations in the United States to help local law enforcement.

"I say this not only as secretary of Defense, but also as a former soldier and a former member of the National Guard, 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," Esper said. "We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act."

On Monday, Trump threatened to invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807, which was signed during Thomas Jefferson's adminitration. He said if states refuse to use the National Guard, he would do it for them.

"If a city or state refuses to take the actions necessary to defend the life and property of the residents, I will deploy the united states military, and quickly solve the problem for them," Trump said.

A different act, the Posse Comitatus Act, limits how the president can use the U.S. military for domestic purposes, and states would have to request the president to send in the U.S. military.

The act hasn't been used often in U.S. history. President Jon F. Kennedy invoked the act to enforce civil rights laws in the South, and President George H.W. Bush invoked the act in 1992 for the Los Angeles riots in resposne to the Rodney King beating.