President Donald Trump late Monday threatened to mobilize the U.S. military to keep the peace across the nation, following days of violent protests.
Speaking at the Rose Garden of the White House, Trump derided governors for not acting more harshly against demonstrators, and said he was deploying “heavily armed” soldiers and police in Washington to quell protests.
“I am mobilizing all federal and local resources, civilian and military, to protect the rights of law abiding Americans,” Trump said, citing the Insurrection Act of 1807. “Today I have strongly recommended to every governor to deploy the National Guard in sufficient numbers that we dominate the streets. Mayors and governors must establish an overwhelming presence until the violence is quelled.”
“If a city or state refuses to take the actions 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,” he said.
While the president has the authority to deploy troops in Washington, the federal government cannot simply send soldiers to states. Under the Insurrection Act, states must first request military intervention.
While Trump said he was “an ally of all peaceful protesters,” moments before he spoke, police aggressively confronted peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square, across from the White House, firing tear gas and dispersing a crowd.
The protesters were apparently cleared out so Trump could have a photo opportunity at the historic St. John’s Church across the street of the White House, where he posed with a Bible in front of the boarded-up church, which caught fire briefly Sunday night.
Earlier Monday afternoon, military trucks full of soldiers were spotted driving into the White House compound.