WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon’s top leaders are going before Congress for the first time in months to face a long list of controversies, including their differences with President Donald Trump over the handling of protests near the White House last month during unrest triggered by the killing of George Floyd in police hands.
The House hearing Thursday will provide the first congressional testimony by Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, since March 4, when they appeared to discuss the administration’s defense policy proposal. That was before the full impact of the coronavirus pandemic became apparent and before nationwide civil unrest threw the Pentagon’s relations with Trump into crisis.
Trump’s push for an aggressive response to the civil unrest led to an extraordinary clash with Esper and Milley, who on June 1 accompanied the president when he walked from the White House to St. John’s Church on Lafayette Square, where he held up a Bible for photographers. That day, a National Guard helicopter was flown at extremely low altitude to help disperse protesters from the capital’s streets, prompting a Pentagon investigation into whether that was a proper use of military resources.
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