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‘Exactly what President Trump wants’: Democratic governors are shunning Trump’s calls to ‘dominate’ protests using military forces

‘Exactly what President Trump wants’: Democratic governors are shunning Trump’s calls to ‘dominate’ protests using military forces

Gavin Newsom

Democratic governors widely attempted to cool the president’s fiery rhetoric following a contentious conference call earlier on Monday, in which Donald Trump advised the state leaders to “dominate” the ongoing protests after the killing of George Floyd.

On Monday morning, Trump held a phone call with governors as riots erupted throughout the country. Protests demanding justice for Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who was initially arrested on suspicion of passing counterfeit currency, and riots took off shortly after his death earlier last week.

During the call, which was obtained by several news outlets, Trump said the governors would look like “fools” if they failed to restore order.

“If you don’t dominate, you’re wasting your time. They’re going to run over you,” Trump said. “You are going to look like a bunch of jerks. You have to dominate.”

Trump also criticized their hesitancy to activate the National Guard and encouraged the leaders to reinforce law enforcement operations. Around 5,000 National Guard troops from 15 states and the District of Columbia were activated as of Monday.

“I don’t know what it is politically where you don’t want to call out people,” Trump said, referring to the state’s National Guard assets. “They’re ready, willing, and able. They want to fight for the country. I don’t know what it is. Someday you’ll have to explain it to me. But it takes so long to call them up.”

Some states like Oregon have been reluctant to activate their National Guard forces. Gov. Kate Brown activated 50 unarmed Oregon National Guardsmen as a “support function only” service to law enforcement operations “behind the scenes.”

“Our goal, and the goal of the overwhelming number of protesters should be to reduce violence,” Brown said Monday afternoon. “You don’t defuse violence by putting soldiers on our streets. Having soldiers on the streets across America is exactly what President Trump wants. He’s made that very clear on a call this morning.”


Following the call, Democratic governors scrutinized Trump’s remarks and accused him of fueling the discontent emanating throughout the country.

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California said in a press conference on Monday that it was “time for more empathy, more care, more capacity to collaborate.”

“Society that’s about dominance and aggression — this is what you get,” Newsom said to reporters. “Not because of the protesters, but the conditions that led to this moment where protests was inevitable.”

Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts said the call with Trump was disheartening but not unusual.

“I know I should be surprised when I hear incendiary words like this from him, but I’m not,” Baker said. “At so many times during these past several weeks, when the country needed compassion and leadership the most, it was simply nowhere to be found.”

“Instead, we got bitterness, combativeness, and self-interest,” Baker added. “That’s not what we need in Boston, it’s not what we need right now in Massachusetts, and it’s definitely not what we need across this great country of ours, either.”

Illinois Gov. J. B. Pritzker expressed his concern to Trump directly during the conference call: “I am extraordinarily concerned about the rhetoric that has been used by you,” he said, adding that “the rhetoric coming out of the White House is making it worse.”

“Right now our nation is hurting,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan also said in a statement. “Americans are in pain and desperate for leadership from the White House during one of the darkest periods in our lifetimes.”

“The president’s dangerous comments should be gravely concerning to all Americans, because they send a clear signal that this administration is determined to sow the seeds of hatred and division, which I fear will only lead to more violence and destruction,” Whitmer added. “We must reject this way of thinking.”

Republican governors, however, applauded Trump’s tough stance and supported the activation of National Guard troops.

“I don’t think we’re prosecuting enough people,” South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said, adding that “strength works.”

“You have to dominate, as you said,” McMaster reportedly said. “I think now is really the time to get serious prosecuting these people, finding out where their organizations are, who is paying the money.”

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