Defense Secretary Mark Esper is trying to do some damage control regarding his involvement in Donald Trump’s publicity stunt Monday outside St. John’s church, and the methods used to clear peaceful protestors beforehand. This comes after NBC News reported that “he was given no notice before President Donald Trump led him and other senior administration officials to St. John’s Episcopal Church for a widely criticized photo opportunity.” During a news conference Thursday, Esper tried to clarify saying he knew he was going to the church, but he didn’t know the circumstances of the visit.

Esper also went against Trump’s “warning” earlier this week that he was “dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel and law enforcement officers to stop the rioting, looting, vandalism, assaults and wanton destruction of property.” The Defense Secretary said:

“I’ve always believed and continue to believe that the National Guard is best suited for performing domestic support to civil authorities in these situations in support of local law enforcement.”

Esper also directly addressed the killing of George Floyd, suggesting all the officers involved should be held “accountable:”

“The killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis policeman is a horrible crime. The officers on the scene that day should be held accountable for his murder. It is a tragedy that we have seen repeat itself too many times… racism is real in America, and we must all do our very best to recognize it, to confront it, and to eradicate it.”

The assumption is that Trump won’t like much of what Esper said. AXIOS’s Jonathan  Swan wrote, To put it mildly, White House officials aren’t thrilled with this press conference or Esper’s NBC interview. As Trump would say, we’ll see what happens…”

Watch what else Esper said above.