Senior Military Adviser Resigns Over Trump's Church Photo-Op

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A senior military adviser resigned over the Trump administration's teargassing of peaceful protesters so that the president could take a photo holding a Bible in front of a Washington, D.C. church. James N. Miller resigned Tuesday after serving on the Defense Science Board since 2014.

Miller was previously the under secretary of defense for policy from 2012 to 2014.

In his resignation letter published by the Washington Post, Miller said Defense Secretary Mark Esper had "violated" his oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States" when he helped clear a park of peaceful protesters using teargas and rubber bullets. 

Miller also slammed Esper for posing with Trump in front of St. John's Episcopal Church for the photo. 

"Law-abiding protesters just outside the White House were dispersed using tear gas and rubber bullets — not for the sake of safety, but to clear a path for a presidential photo op. You then accompanied President Trump in walking from the White House to St. John’s Episcopal Church for that photo," Miller wrote in the letter. 

"Anyone who takes the oath of office must decide where he or she will draw the line: What are the things that they will refuse to do?" Miller continued. "Secretary Esper, you have served honorably for many years, in active and reserve military duty, as Secretary of the Army, and now as Secretary of Defense. You must have thought long and hard about where that line should be drawn. I must now ask: If last night’s blatant violations do not cross the line for you, what will?" 

Miller also warned Esper to carefully consider his future actions and words, including his remarks to governors about the need to "dominate the battlespace" amid the protests over George Floyd's death

"You have made life-and-death decisions in combat overseas; soon you may be asked to make life-and-death decisions about using the military on American streets and against Americans. Where will you draw the line, and when will you draw it?" Miller added. 

The photo-op was also heavily criticized by many, including the bishop of St. John's, Mariann Budde, who tweeted that Trump "used a Bible and a church of my diocese as a backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus and everything that our church stands for."

"The President did not come to pray; he did not lament the death of George Floyd or acknowledge the collective agony of people of color in our nation. He did not attempt to heal or bring calm to our troubled land," Budde added. 

Miller concluded his letter to Esper with a powerful statement.

"I wish you the best, in very difficult times. The sanctity of the U.S. Constitution, and the lives of Americans, may depend on your choices," Miller wrote. 

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