President Donald Trump gave an ominous and curt address in the Rose Garden on Monday threatening military intervention in nationwide protests.
Trump’s remarks were hastily announced around 6 p.m., with the president speaking about 45 minutes later.
“Today I have strongly recommended to every governor to deploy the National Guard in sufficient numbers that we dominate the streets,” Trump said.
“Mayors and governors must establish an overwhelming law enforcement presence until the violence has been quelled. If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are 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 did not present the announcement as an executive order, but rather as “measures” that will go “into effect immediately.”
Tear gas explosions and the cries of protesters could be heard by reporters waiting for Trump in the Rose Garden.
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) June 1, 2020
Trump did not take any questions after his concluding remarks, only saying he would go “pay my respects to a very very special place” before leaving. Trump then walked across the street to the St. John’s Church, also known as the “Church of the Presidents.” The pathway to the church was cleared for Trump by military and police, who violently forced peaceful protesters out of the way.
It’s official: the protesters were teargassed and cleared for Trump to walk to St. John’s for a photo op.
— Eli Stokols (@EliStokols) June 1, 2020
Standing alongside several other senior officials, Trump posed for photographs at the church, while holding a Bible.
Earlier on Monday, Trump criticized governors from several states for their response to quelling the riots across the country. In a conference call with the governors, Trump said the governors would look like “fools” if they failed to restore order, and encouraged them to activate their National Guard forces.
Around 5,000 National Guard troops from 15 states, and the District of Columbia, were activated as of Monday.
“If you don’t dominate, you’re wasting your time. They’re going to run over you,” Trump said, according to audio recordings of the call that was obtained by several news outlets. “You are going to look like a bunch of jerks. You have to dominate.”
Some states like Oregon have been reluctant to activate their National Guard forces. Democratic Gov. Kate Brown activated 50 Oregon 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.”