President Trump. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

More than 280 former senior U.S. diplomats and military leaders came down on President Trump, saying the military has "no role" when Americans are exercising their right to free speech, according to a letter obtained by Foreign Policy.

The big picture: Trump has been battling with the Pentagon this week over whether to deploy troops to cities across the U.S. to squash protests that have followed the death of George Floyd. The response from former military leaders was swift and harsh, a rare instance in political matters.

What they're saying:

  • "We called out violations of human rights and the authoritarian regimes that deployed their military against their own citizens," the former high-ranking officials wrote. "We condemn all criminal acts against persons and property, but cannot agree that responding to these acts is beyond the capabilities of local and state authorities.” 
  • “There is no role for the U.S. military in dealing with American citizens exercising their constitutional right to free speech, however uncomfortable that speech may be for some."

Background: This week, Trump was rebuffed by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper over the physical force and pepper balls used to disperse crowds from outside the White House so the president could snap a photo.

Yes, but: Elected officials and police departments across the country are reporting less violence and fewer arrests than earlier in the week. Cities have even abandoned their curfews and emergency declarations.

Go deeper: D.C. mayor asks Trump to withdraw military and federal law enforcement

Go deeper

The inside story of Trump’s embarrassing endorsement

Trump listens during a roundtable at the White House June 15. Photo: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

Madison Cawthorn, the 24-year-old who stunningly defeated the candidate President Trump endorsed in the Republican runoff for North Carolina's 11th congressional district, got a congratulatory call last night from the president himself — on Air Force One flying back from Arizona.

Why it matters: Lynda Bennett's defeat ruined Trump's near-perfect record of endorsing winners in GOP primaries — a record he prized and often boasted about.

Exclusive: Trump's new wakeup call

Jason Miller talks to reporters at Trump Tower on Nov. 16, 2016. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Besides Fox News and the CIA, President Trump now has another morning briefer, according to Republican sources: Jason Miller, a new top official at Trump's campaign, gives him a fill on what's driving the political day.

Why it matters: Trump, who prizes familiarity, is comfortable with Miller. Aides hope that if Trump is reassured that his team has a plan, he'll be less likely to try to take every element of the campaign into his own hands.

Updated Jul 3, 2020 - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Adm. Brett Giroir, the Health and Human Services official overseeing the nation's coronavirus testing efforts, expressed concern that the July 4 holiday weekend could worsen already troubled cities and cause new outbreaks for others.

The big picture: The annual Macy’s fireworks show in New York is taking place as five-minute displays throughout the week in unannounced locations to prevent viewers from congregating, the Wall Street Journal reports.