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Pentagon Adviser Resigns After Trump Regime's Assault on Protesters

From left: Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Attorney General William Barr, White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien, President Donald Trump, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, on June 1, 2020
From left: Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Attorney General William Barr, White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien, President Donald Trump, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, on June 1, 2020
Photo: AP

James Miller, a member of the Pentagon’s Defense Advisory Board, has resigned in the wake of President Donald Trump’s violent crackdown on peaceful protesters in Washington, DC, on Monday, according to a new letter published by the Washington Post. In his resignation letter, Miller wrote that Defense Secretary Mark Esper “violated his oath” to defend the Constitution when he participated in a photo-op for Trump that was only made possible after protesters who were demonstrating against police brutality were brutalized by police.

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Trump gave a chilling speech in the Rose Garden of the White House on Monday, followed by a made-for-TV walk across the street to a church, accompanied by Defense Secretary Mark Esper and other members of the Trump regime. The walk was only made possible when police shot rubber bullets and tear gas into a crowd of peaceful protesters to disperse them, something that by all accounts was ordered by officials from the Trump regime, including Attorney General Bill Barr.

“Law-abiding protesters just outside the White House were dispersed using tear gas and rubber bullets—not for the sake of safety, but to clear a path for a presidential photo op. You then accompanied President Trump in walking from the White House to St. John’s Episcopal Church for that photo,” Miller wrote of Esper.

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Strangely, U.S. Park Police released a statement denying that it used tear gas against the protesters, something that was obviously false given the fact that it was shown live on television. Australian journalists could also be seen getting attacked by police, despite one cameraman clearly holding a TV camera.

Miller, who also served under President Barack Obama from 2012 to 2014 and is the first high-ranking official to resign over the incident, gave his letter to the Washington Post, which published it in full. The letter makes it clear that Miller was very disturbed by the image of Defense Secretary being used as a prop for an authoritarian president.

“You may not have been able to stop President Trump from directing this appalling use of force, but you could have chosen to oppose it. Instead, you visibly supported it,” Miller wrote in Tuesday’s letter.

“Anyone who takes the oath of office must decide where he or she will draw the line: What are the things that they will refuse to do?” Miller continued. “Secretary Esper, you have served honorably for many years, in active and reserve military duty, as Secretary of the Army, and now as Secretary of Defense. You must have thought long and hard about where that line should be drawn. I must now ask: If last night’s blatant violations do not cross the line for you, what will?”

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US President Donald Trump walks with US Attorney General William Barr (L), US Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper (C), Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark A. Milley (R), and others from the White House to visit St. John’s Church after the area was cleared of people protesting the death of George Floyd June 1, 2020, in Washington, DC
US President Donald Trump walks with US Attorney General William Barr (L), US Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper (C), Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark A. Milley (R), and others from the White House to visit St. John’s Church after the area was cleared of people protesting the death of George Floyd June 1, 2020, in Washington, DC
Photo: Getty Images

Trump, a white supremacist and fascist, has brazenly threatened to send the U.S. military into the streets, where thousands of people are protesting the death of 46-year-old George Floyd, a black man killed by a white police officer in Minnesota. Trump berated the nation’s governors on a phone call that leaked to the press. Miller warned in his resignation letter that Trump appeared ready to break laws to hurt peaceful protesters in the United States.

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“Unfortunately, it appears there may be few if any lines that President Trump is not willing to cross, so you will probably be faced with this terrible question again in the coming days. You may be asked to take, or to direct the men and women serving in the U.S. military to take, actions that further undermine the Constitution and harm Americans,” Miller wrote.

Esper, who was also on the call to governors, said that they must “dominate the battlespace,” referring to American streets like a warzone.

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“As a concerned citizen, and as a former senior defense official who cares deeply about the military, I urge you to consider closely both your future actions and your future words,” Miller wrote. “For example, some could interpret literally your suggestion to the nation’s governors Monday that they need to ‘dominate the battlespace.’ I cannot believe that you see the United States as a ‘battlespace,’ or that you believe our citizens must be ‘dominated.’ Such language sends an extremely dangerous signal.”

Esper told NBC News on Tuesday that he didn’t know where he was going when he left the White House with Trump to visit the church.

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“I didn’t know where I was going,” Esper said, insisting through a spokesperson that he had no idea Trump would use the walk as a photo opportunity. Trump simply stood in front of the church, waving around a Bible and not saying much at all as he invited other members of the Trump regime to join him in front of the press cameras.

Miller closed his letter by asking Esper how far he’s willing to go as he’ll soon be confronted with making “life and death decisions” that could be used “against Americans.”

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“The sanctity of the U.S. Constitution, and the lives of Americans, may depend on your choices.”

Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog

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DISCUSSION

Bravo on him for not just silently resigning.

He may have nuked his career in how how he resigned, but maybe if more people in power had the fortitude that this man did, we wouldn't have an authoritarian fascist leading this country.