Amid Chaos, Trump Deploys Military to Washington
“I am your president of law and order, and an ally of all peaceful protesters," said Trump, with flash bangs heard in the background.
President Donald Trump addressed the nation Monday briefly after protests and violence swept the nation over the weekend in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
As helicopter blades whirred overhead, and flash bangs were heard in the background, Trump declared that, “I am your president of law and order, and an ally of all peaceful protesters.”
The president said justice would be served for George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis after a police officer knelt on his neck for nine minutes during an arrest. Trump said he and “all Americans were rightly sickened and revolted by the brutal death of George Floyd” and that his administration was “fully committed” to service justice for Floyd and his family.
Holding a Bible and surrounded by aides national security adviser Robert O’Brien, Attorney General Bill Barr, senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, chief of staff Mark Meadows, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, Trump said, “We have the greatest country in the world.”
“But in recent days, our nation has been gripped by professional anarchists, violent mobs, arsonists, looters, criminals, rioters, Antifa, and others.”
“A number of state and local governments have failed to take action” Trump said, and he promised that “if a city or state refuses to take the actions necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.”
Trump said he will ensure that violent protests end, and that he is willing to deploy “thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel and law enforcement officers” in order to maintain order.
Nearby, peaceful protesters were dispersed with tear gas, flash grenades, and rubber bullets, about 20 minutes before the 7 p.m. curfew, so that Trump could visit St. John’s Episcopal church across from Lafayette Park.
Meanwhile, an active duty military police battalion of between 200 to 250 military personnel is in the process of deploying to Washington, D.C., from Ft. Bragg in North Carolina, and could be in the nation’s capital as soon as Monday night, according to three US defense officials who spoke to CNN.
Earlier Monday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper encouraged governors to “dominate the battlespace” and put down nationwide protests in cities across the country.
On a White House phone call with governors on Monday, Esper urged leaders to use force and overwhelm protestors.
“I think the sooner that you mass and dominate the battlespace, the quicker this dissipates and we can get back to the right normal,” Esper said during the call, according to a recording of the call leaked to the New York Times.
During the same phone call, Trump urged governors to dominate and use force to put an end to the protests and violence.
“You have to dominate or you’ll look like a bunch of jerks, you have to arrest and try people,” Trump told the governors during the call, which took place from the basement White House Situation Room.
The entire D.C. National Guard was already called up over the weekend to assist along with a host of other law enforcement agencies, including Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department, the Secret Service, and U.S. Park Police, to control protests near the White House. Riot teams from the Bureau of Prisons and a Federal Bureau of Investigation hostage rescue team are assisting as well, according to a senior Department of Justice official.
Trump on Monday said in his call with the governors said Washington would be “under much more control” because “we’re pouring in and we’re going to pull in thousands of people.”
“We’re going to clamp down very, very strong,” Trump said, according to an audio recording of the call obtained by CNN. “The word is dominate. If you don’t dominate your city and your state, they’re gonna walk away with you. And we’re doing it in Washington, in DC, we’re going to do something that people haven’t seen before. … But we’re going to have total domination.”