The White House wanted to have 10,000 active duty troops on the streets of Washington and other cities earlier this week to quell protesters, but Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint of Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley pushed back at the use of any active duty troops, according to a senior defense official.

Esper did move approximately 1,600 active duty troops to be in the Washington, DC, region to respond if needed but the approximately 5,000 National Guard troops already there never needed assistance and the active troops began to leave Thursday night.

A second defense official said Milley strongly felt the threshold — informally described as dire circumstances — for calling in active duty troops could not be met, opening the door to whether such a potential presidential order would be legal.