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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."

Why it matters: The visit has received backlash from both sides of the political aisle as well as clergy from the church.

  • 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.

Go deeper

Trump to visit Kenosha amid anger over Jacob Blake shooting

President Trump visiting an emergency operation center in Orange, Texas, on Saturday. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump will visit Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday amid unrest over the Aug. 23 police shooting that left Jacob Blake paralyzed from the waist down, the White House confirmed.

Why it matters: Per AP, Trump's trip is "certain to exacerbate tensions in the city, where a crowd of about 1,000 demonstrators gathered outside a courthouse Saturday to denounce police violence." White House spokesperson Judd Deere told reporters the president would "survey damage from recent riots," AFP reports. Trump is touting his law and order credentials as he seeks re-election.

Go deeper: Trump and Biden ready to refight 1968

Senate Democrats demand answers on FBI's Kavanaugh probe

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Senate Democrats are demanding that the FBI hand over "all records and communications" related to the FBI tip line set up to investigate Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh when he was a nominee in 2018.

Why it matters: The ask comes after the FBI revealed it received more than 4,500 tips about Kavanaugh when he was awaiting Senate confirmation amid sexual assault allegations. Only the most "relevant" of these tips were forwarded to the Trump White House.

Chip relief on the horizon

Illustration: Sarah Grillo

Good news: The worst of the chip supply crunch might be near.

The other side: Here's the bad news... CEOs say chips totally flowing like normal is still a ways out.