White House

Trump Unloads on Governors’ ‘Weak’ Response to Riots: ‘You Have to Dominate’

President Trump speaks from the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington D.C., May 26, 2020. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

President Trump scolded governors from across the country over their collective response to the widespread riots in the wake of George Floyd’s death, telling them to “dominate” the situation with a heavy police presence and calling them “weak” for allowing looting and destruction to occur.

According to multiple reports, the president — who did not appear publicly Sunday — warned local officials that the “radical left” was taking advantage of the situation, and said that he was putting General Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, “in charge” of the situation.

“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,” Trump reportedly stated. He added that officials need to “arrest” and “track” those involved. “You have to put them in jail for 10 years and you’ll never see this stuff again,” he declared.

Trump announced Sunday that he was officially declaring the far-left anarchist group Antifa a terrorist organization, and tweeted multiple times calling for “law and order.” On the call Monday, he called out Minneapolis, the epicenter of the unrest, saying the “whole world was laughing” at the decision to allow rioters to burn a police station.

“You’re making a mistake because you’re making yourselves look like fools. And some have done a great job. But a lot of you, it’s not – it’s not a great day for our country,” the president declared. He also mentioned that after multiple nights of rioting and looting in Washington, D.C., he was moving to “have it under much more control,” stating that “we’re going to pull in thousands of people.”

Multiple reports of organized chaos have turned protests over Floyd’s death into public safety and national security concerns. The head of the NYPD’s counterterrorism unit said Sunday that the riots — which Floyd’s brother condemned — were coordinated and involved “a complex network” of scouts to determine police locations. After several days of unrest, Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan tweeted that “white men” were responsible for many of the riots and were “co-opting peaceful demonstrations.”

While its unclear what role Milley will play in responding to the situation, Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) proposed earlier that Trump invoke the Insurrection Act, which authorizes the president to deploy troops domestically to put down rebellion.

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