What powers does the President have to control order? A look at the Insurrection Act | Just the FAQs

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President Trump threatened to implement the Insurrection Act to quell protests. What are the limits to his power and could he implement martial law?

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Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Wednesday he opposes using the U.S. military to quiet domestic unrest in a break with President Donald Trump who threatened to deploy federal troops to “dominate the streets.”

“I say this not only as secretary of defense, but also as a former soldier, and a former member of the National Guard: The option to use active-duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort and only in the most urgent and dire of situations. We are not in one of those situations now,” Esper said. “I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.”

Two administration officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Trump was angry over Esper’s comments and felt like the defense secretary left the impression it was his decision on whether to invoke the Insurrection Act.

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