Updated Jun 1, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump lashes out at governors, calls for National Guard to "dominate" streets

President Trump berated the nation’s governors in a video teleconference call Monday, calling many of them "weak" and demanding tougher crackdowns on the protests that erupted throughout the country following the killing of George Floyd, according to audio of the call.

The latest: White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said at a briefing Monday that Trump's call for law enforcement to "dominate" protesters referred to "dominating the streets" with a robust National Guard presence in order to maintain the peace.

  • McEnany said there will be "additional federal assets" deployed across the country and a "central command center in conjunction with state and local governments" that would include Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and Attorney General Bill Barr.
  • "For the lawlessness we are seeing, far more needs to be done," McEnany said. "Governors across the country must act, deploy the National Guard as it's fit, and protect American communities.

Highlights from Trump's call:

  • “Most of you are weak,” Trump said. “You have to arrest people.”
  • “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’ve got to arrest people, you have to track people, you have to put them in jail for 10 years and you’ll never see this stuff again."
  • "It's a movement. If you don't put it down, it will get worse and worse. The only time it's successful is when you're weak and most of you are weak."
  • Trump said the violence "is coming from the radical left," according to CBS News: [Y]ou 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. I saw it — a kid has a lot of stuff, he puts it in the back of a brand new car and drives off. You have every one of these guys on tape. Why aren't you prosecuting them? Now, the harder you are, the tougher you are, the less likely you're going to be hit."
  • "What happened in the state of Minnesota — they were a laughingstock all over the world. They took over the police department, the police were running down the streets. I’ve never seen anything like it and the whole world was laughing."
  • "It is a war in a certain sense. And we are going to end it fast."

Attorney General Bill Barr was also on the Monday call, according to AP. Barr told governors they have to “dominate” the streets and control the crowds instead of reacting to them. “Go after troublemakers," Barr said.

Go deeper: Trump privately scolded, warned by allies over violent protest rhetoric

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