Secretary of Defense Mark Esper initially ordered active duty troops deployed to staging areas outside Washington D.C. to go home on Wednesday, but Trump reversed the order on Wednesday night after a confrontation with Esper in the Oval Office.
Conditions on the ground haven't really changed since then, but most of the troops have been told to go home. Again.
More than 700 soldiers from the Army's 82nd Airborne Division who have been in Washington since Monday are being sent back to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, on Thursday night, the official said.
A decision to send the soldiers from the 82nd Airborne back south was made Wednesday but then reversed, the official said, because the administration got word that there might be a large demonstration in the capital this weekend and wanted to make sure it could respond. "Now they are confident they can," the official said.
Deploying the Airborne to counter a protest never made sense to begin with as they're trained to deploy behind enemy lines and kill the enemy, not to control peaceful crowds of Americans.
To say they're confident they can respond to protests without the Airborne is a misnomer because it was never going to happen anyway. Isolated violence at largely peaceful demonstrations does not rise anywhere near the level of an insurrection. Only in Trump's fear-addled brain is that the case.
The Constitution is only as strong as the leaders who uphold it, of course, and I can't say I have total confidence that Esper would refuse Trump's direct orders, but it does appear that Trump bit off more than he can chew this time. It was at least enough to prompt former senior generals and defense chiefs to come off the sidelines and speak out against Trump.
Trump's weekend schedule has him traveling to Maine and then to his golf club in New Jersey. That's probably the real reason the troops have been ordered to go home: Trump won't be in D.C. so he won't personally feel like he needs the added protection.