President Trump with Esper following behind him. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told NBC on Tuesday he had no notice that he was being led with President Trump on Monday to a photo op at St. John's Episcopal Church, saying: "I thought I was going to do two things: to see some damage and to talk to the troops."
- The Trump administration used physical force and pepper balls to disperse crowds from outside the White House so the president could snap the photo.
What he's saying: "I didn't know where I was going," Esper told NBC. "I wanted to see how much damage actually happened."
- Esper also said he had no awareness of plans to disperse protesters, but that he's very proud of the National Guard" following their nationwide response to civil unrests.