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Trump threatens to deploy troops, clears protesters for photo-op
President Donald Trump on Monday delivered his first extended remarks on the unrest sweeping across the country, declaring himself the “president of law and order” and threatening to deploy the U.S. military to quell violent demonstrations that have taken place nationwide since the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man.
Denouncing the violence and looting as “acts of domestic terror,” Trump urged “every governor to deploy the National Guard in sufficient numbers that we dominate the streets.”
“If a city or a state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents,” he continued, “then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.”
In an extraordinary split-screen moment, as Trump called himself an “ally of all peaceful protesters,” police officers just outside the White House began forcing nonviolent demonstrators away by firing tear gas and rubber bullets at them before the capital’s curfew had taken effect.
The protesters were cleared, it would soon become apparent, to allow for a presidential photo-op: shortly after concluding his remarks in the Rose Garden, Trump walked from the White House to a nearby church that had been briefly set ablaze during the protests on Sunday night.
After arriving outside St. John’s Episcopal Church — known as the “Church of the Presidents” because each one since James Madison has prayed there — Trump, surrounded by aides, held a Bible aloft for several minutes as the cameras rolled before returning to the White House.
The president’s visit to St. John’s, and the preceding use of teargas against protesters, was decried by congressional Democrats as well as the bishop who oversees the church.
“The president just used a Bible ... and one of the churches of my diocese without permission as a backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus and everything that our churches stand for,” Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington told CNN.
“I am outraged,” she added later.
Despite Trump’s promise on Monday “to stop the violence and restore security and safety in America,” his remarks were followed by the seventh straight day of largely peaceful protests turning to another night of chaos and destruction.
Curfews in America’s major cities failed to stem the turmoil, as stores were looted in New York and Los Angeles, fires were set in Louisville and Philadelphia, and police officers were shot in Las Vegas and St. Louis.
Before his address on Monday, Trump held a conference call with the nation’s governors. As in his public remarks, Trump’s tone was more incendiary than unifying, labeling the governors’ responses to the demonstrations as “weak.”
“You have to dominate,” he told them, according to an audiotape of the call obtained by several news outlets. “If you don’t dominate, you’re wasting your time. They’re going to run all over you, you’ll look like a bunch of jerks.”
Although Trump ordered about 200 troops stationed at Fort Broog to deploy in Washington, D.C.— the only American city where he can automatically do so — he did not mobilize military personnel elsewhere. In order to follow through on his threat to deploy troops in U.S. states, Trump would have to invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807, which empowers the president to take domestic military action in “cases of insurrection, or obstruction to the laws.”
The centuries-old law, which is an exception to the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 (which limits the power of the federal government to deploy military personnel inside the U.S.), was last invoked to quell the Los Angeles riots in 1992.
- “Two autopsies both find George Floyd died by homicide, but differ on some key details” (CBS News)
- “Louisville police chief fired after officer bodycams found to be off during fatal shooting” (NBC News)
- “Reports of Violence Against Journalists Mount as U.S. Protests Intensify” (Wall Street Journal)
- Meanwhile, at another church: “Biden vows to take on systematic racism” (Associated Press)
- “8 Minutes and 46 Seconds: How George Floyd Was Killed in Police Custody” (New York Times)
PRIMARY DAY: “Holding an election in the middle of a once-in-a-century pandemic is tough. Holding an election as civil unrest sweeps across the country during that pandemic could be seriously problematic.”
“Election officials will have to grapple with that very challenge Tuesday, when voters in nine states and the District of Columbia vote by mail or head to the polls for primaries. Several cities set to hold an election have seen massive protests, at times spiraling into looting and violence.” (Politico)
Top races to watch:
- The Republican primary in Iowa’s 4th congressional district, where Rep. Steve King is facing a competitive challenge from state Sen. Randy Feenstra and has lost the backing of many party leaders.
- The Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in Iowa, where real estate executive Theresa Greenfield has establishment support but must clear 35% of the vote to clinch the nomination to face GOP Sen. Joni Ernst.
- The Democratic primary in New Mexico’s 3rd congressional district, where an open seat has led to a crowded field, including former CIA officer Valerie Plame, whose identity was the focus of a major Bush-era scandal.
CORONAVIRUS: “More than 25,000 residents died and 60,000 were infected as the coronavirus swept through U.S. nursing homes in recent months, particularly affecting facilities with a history of low marks for staffing and patient care, the federal government reported Monday.”
“The virus also infected 34,000 staff and took the lives of more than 400, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency that oversees the nation’s nursing homes.” (Washington Post)
- “Anthony Fauci on Covid-19 reopenings, vaccines, and moving at ‘warp speed’” (STAT News)
FLYNN CASE: “The U.S. judge in the criminal case against President Donald Trump’s former adviser Michael Flynn defended himself on Monday, saying it was proper to seek outside views on the Justice Department’s request to drop a charge to which Flynn has pleaded guilty.”
“Lawyers representing U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said in a court filing that he is not a ‘mere rubber stamp’ and needed to carefully consider the department’s ‘unprecedented’ request. Democrats and former federal prosecutors have accused Attorney General William Barr of politicizing the criminal justice system to go light on Trump associates in key cases.” (Reuters)
- “The Flynn Calls: His Dismissal of Russian Interference and the Kremlin’s Savvy” (New York Times)
*All times Eastern
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will visit the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C., at 11:20 a.m.
After returning to the White House, the president will sign an executive order to “advance international religious freedom” at 12:15 p.m., receive his intelligence briefing at 2:30 p.m., and meet with Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar at 4 p.m.
Vice President Mike Pence will lead a White House Coronavirus Task Force meeting at 11 a.m. and join the president for the executive order signing and meeting with Secretary Azar.
The Senate will convene at 10 a.m., hold a cloture vote on the nomination of Victor G. Mercado to be Assistant Secretary of Defense at 11:45 a.m., and then recess for weekly caucus meetings.
The chamber will then return to hold a confirmation vote on Mercado and a cloture vote on the nomination of Brian Miller to be Special Inspector General for the pandemic Recovery at 2:15 p.m., as well as a confirmation vote on Miller at 4:30 p.m.
The House is not in session.
The Supreme Court is not in session.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden will deliver remarks in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at around 10 a.m. on “the civil unrest facing communities across America.”
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