Donald Trump poses with a bible outside St. John’s Church, Washington DC, June 1, 2020 (Patrick Semansky/AP)
Donald Trump tried to invoke the Insurrection Act last summer to put down protests after the killing of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis.
White House aides drafted a proclamation to cover the deployment of active-duty troops in Washington, “two senior Trump administration officials” said.
The document was drafted on June 1, 2020 as an enraged Trump told Attorney General William Barr; Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff, Gen. Mark Milley, that he wanted thousands of troops on Washington’s streets.
Later in the day, Trump did a photo-opportunity walk outside the White House, across Lafayette Park to St. John’s Church, so he could pose holding a Bible upside down. Just before the walk, security forces used tear gas to clear peaceful demonstrators from the park.
The three men checked Trump’s immediate attempt. Milley pointed at a portrait of Abraham Lincoln behind Trump, “That guy had an insurrection. What we have, Mr. President, is a protest.”
However, a group of White House aides pursued the draft proclamation.
Trump denied in a Friday statement that he ever sought the deployment, “It’s absolutely not true and if it was true, I would have done it.”
Trump: “Just Shoot Them”
A “Trump advisor” maintained that Trump had rejected the step when he was presented with the option.
But officials said Trump continued to raise the deployment active-duty military in following weeks, in cities from New York to Chicago to Portland, Oregon.
Infuriated by the TV coverage of Black Lives Matter marches, Trump would show videos of security personnel using force against protesters.
He told his top law enforcement and military officials to “beat the fuck out” of demonstrators, “That’s how you’re supposed to handle these people. Crack their skulls!”
On multiple occasions, he demanded, “Just shoot them.” When Attorney General Barr or General Milley advised against this, Trump revised the command, “Well, shoot them in the leg — or maybe the foot. But be hard on them!”
Hardline advisor Stephen Miller egged on Trump, equating US cities as “burning” war zones in a Third World country. Milley responded, “Shut the fuck up, Stephen.”