Trump threatens to deploy the military if state officials cannot contain protest violence. The president would need to invoke the “Insurrection Act,” which allows U.S. troops to be deployed domestically.
WASHINGTON D.C. (NBC News) – Donald Trump is considering invoking “the Insurrection Act” a 213-year-old federal law that allows him to deploy active-duty U.S. troops domestically.
As the sound of sirens wailed and flash bangs popped across the street, Trump announced from the Rose Garden that he would use the U.S. military to stop the riots across the county that have been sparked by the death of George Floyd. “I am mobilizing all federal and local resources, civilian and military, to protect the rights of law abiding Americans,” Trump said in the extraordinary address, which was delivered as police fired tear gas outside to push protesters back from the White House.
Four people familiar with the decision told NBC News he planned to do so. The military police forces would come from Fort Bragg in North Carolina and possibly Fort Belvoir in Virginia and could arrive in Washington within hours, these people said.
Trump’s decision to invoke the act, adopted in 1807, to deploy troops comes as his frustrations mount over the protests. The people familiar with his decision say Trump is angry at the destruction protestors caused in Washington, particularly the vandalization of national monuments.
Some of the president’s aides have been encouraging him for days to invoke the act, as he weighs options for exercising executive powers to address the crisis. The act was last invoked during the 1992 Rodney King riots in Los Angeles.
Trump’s remarks came hours after he urged the nation’s governors to get “tough” with unruly demonstrators. “Most of you are weak,” he told them, according to audio of the call obtained by NBC News. “You have to dominate. If you don’t dominate, you’re wasting your time, they’re gonna run over you, you’re gonna look like a bunch of jerks,” the president said.
Trump called the governors “fools” and expressed anger with Democratic mayors in particular over the protests and unrest ravaging cities nationwide. He was described by one person on the call as “losing it.” Several governors pushed back on Trump’s narrative, including J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, a Democrat, who told Trump he was “extraordinarily concerned about the rhetoric that’s been used by you. It’s been inflammatory.”
Trump has spent most of his Monday morning on Twitter blaming the unrest on antifa and accusing staffers of former Vice President Joe Biden of “working to get the anarchists out of jail.”
Trump’s advisers have been divided over what role the president should take in responding to the widest unrest the country has seen in decades. Some say he should focus his message on the black man who died last week at the hands of Minneapolis police, and urge calm. Others say the top priority is stopping the violence and looting with strong police tactics, not presidential speeches.
One way or another, Trump is very angry and frustrated.
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