Trump said that law enforcement across Washington plans to intensify later on Monday. In a video teleconference, Trump argued that the protests are disrupting the nation’s standing on the world stage as if the U.S. wasn’t already a mess thanks to the government’s handling of COVID-19.
Trump made a number of intense demands and suggestions on the call. For example, he called on governors to enact a new ban on flag burning, which is an expression of free speech protected by the Constitution.
Trump also admonished governors and big-city mayors for not calling on the National Guards for support.
“You’re making a mistake because you’re making yourselves look like fools,” he told the governors. “And some have done a great job. But a lot of you, it’s not – it’s not a great day for our country.”
Additional folks on the call include Attorney General William Barr, who said he plans to “activate very strongly,” as well as General Mark Miley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
Esper explained to governors that so far, only two states have called more than 1,000 National Guard troops. Trump went on to say that he was “shocked” that governors weren’t using “the greatest resource.”
“You have to dominate, if you don’t dominate you’re wasting your time. They’re going to run over you. You’re going to look like a bunch of jerks. You have to dominate,” the president continued to governors.
One call participant said the president’s tone and wording were “unhinged.”
Trump argued that the violence was “coming from the radical left — you know, it everybody knows it — but it’s also looters, and it’s people that figure they can get free stuff by running into stores and running out with television sets.”
Trump was briefly transferred to the White House bunker on Friday evening since protests were occurring near the White House.
On the call, Trump further urged governors and local authorities to arrest and jail people for long periods of time.
“You’ve got to arrest these people – and you’ve got to charge them,” Trump told the governors. “And you can’t do this deal where they get one week in jail. These are terrorists, these are terrorists, they’re looking to do bad things to our country. They’re Antifa and they’re radical left.”
Trump also said:
“If you’re weak and don’t dominate your streets, they’re going to stay with you until you finally do it. And you don’t want it. Philadelphia, you’d better toughen up. Because what’s going on in Philadelphia, like New York, is terrible. It’s terrible. You’d better toughen — they’ll never leave. I know you want to say, ‘Oh, let’s not call up the Guard, let’s call up 200 people.’ You’ve got a big National Guard out there that’s ready to come in and fight like hell. I tell ya, the best, what they did in Minneapolis was incredible.”
At one point, Trump even said that officers and other authorities, who will most likely be armed, should “fight back” if they witness someone picking up a brick.
“You know, you’re allowed to fight back, folks. You don’t have to have a brick hit you in the face, and you don’t do anything about it. You are allowed to fight back,” he said.
Trump’s comments come after videos have spread across social media showing the police’s brutal treatment of protestors.
Some of the governors sided with Trump. West Virginia Republican Governor Jim Justice said that if Trump is experiencing resistance from other states, “you can come to West Virginia. … there won’t be any disturbance whatsoever.”
Other governors weren’t as nice. Illinois Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker said the president should tone down his political rhetoric. “We have to call for calm, we have to have police reform called for…The rhetoric coming out of the White House is making it worse.”
“I don’t like your rhetoric much, either.”
He continued, “But that’s okay, we don’t agree with each other.”
Typical. Protestors, be safe.
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