MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough Demands Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s Resignation Over ‘Despicable’ Gassing of DC Protesters

Lindsey Ellefson

“Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough called the gassing of protesters prior to President Donald Trump’s St. John’s Church photo-op Monday “despicable” and called for Secretary of Defense Mark Esper — who backed the removal of the protesters — to resign.

Addressing Trump and Republicans directly on-air Wednesday, Scarborough said, “By the way, if you represent us — whatever agency you represent — stop lying to us about using tear gas. We saw it. It happened. We all saw it in real-time. The global village saw people in that time with their heads thrown back and their friends pouring water in their eyes … You used tear gas. You used pepper spray. You used rubber bullets to clash with peaceful protesters. We’ve got the tape. It’s all on tape, Marco Rubio. It’s all on tape, Republicans. We saw it happening in real-time. Stop lying!”

On Monday, Trump held a brief presser in Washington D.C. but took no questions after he called on governors to curb the widespread protests that have been taking place following the death of George Floyd while in police custody. Trump then walked to St. John’s Church holding a bible, as police fired tear gas and rubber bullets into a crowd of peaceful protesters to clear a path.

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Scarborough went on, calling out more leaders, including former defense secretary James Mattis: “The head of the Department of Defense — Hey, James Mattis! You want to wake up from your slumber and stop worrying about offending somebody? Because you’re pissing off a lot of people, James Mattis. Your silence is pissing off a lot of people. We have a Secretary of Defense who actually said he thought that the president — they were going to inspect troops and they were going to inspect a bathroom. That is Secretary Esper’s worst excuse since he said his dog ate his Constitution. It’s despicable. If he were misled by that, by the President of the United States, then he should resign. Secretary Esper, you should resign this morning if you were used as a political plot.”

Later Wednesday morning, Esper said he didn’t support sending active-duty troops to deal with violent protestors, though he did not specifically address Monday’s incident between police and protestors. “I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act,” Esper said.

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