President Trump has said that he did not view low-flying military helicopters over Washington, DC, Monday night as a problem, despite an investigation into those actions by the District of Columbia National Guard and an inquiry requested by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.

“The problem is not the very talented, low-flying helicopter pilots wanting to save our city, the problem is the arsonists, looters, criminals, and anarchists, wanting to destroy it (and our Country)!” Trump tweeted Thursday evening.

Some context: The National Guard helicopter that was seen flying low over protesters in Washington, DC, on Monday night had a “stated mission” in part to “deter” criminal activity including rioting and looting by keeping a presence overhead, a defense official who has direct knowledge of the orders the crew had. 

The official declined to be identified because the Washington, DC, National Guard is now investigating whether flights were conducted appropriately.

The Lakota UH-72 was also supposed to also deter “unlawful assembly,” provide medical evacuation from the crowd if needed and provide surveillance to command and control for force protection, the official said. 

The investigation, the official said, is focusing on how those orders resulted in the low level flights that sent debris flying and was intimidating to civilians, the official said.

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