A stunning new report shows that the Trump Administration came disturbingly close to deploying active-duty troops in Washington, D.C. to handle the protests that followed the killing of George Floyd last summer.
The New York Times scoop cites two senior members of the Trump White House who say aides to the president aides drafted a proclamation on June 1, 2020 to invoke the Insurrection Act in case then-president Donald Trump took the drastic step to call in the military.
Trump was becoming increasingly upset as he saw coverage of the protests on television. One official detailed a meeting where the president told Attorney General Bill Barr, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley, that he wanted thousands of active-duty troops put on the streets of the nation’s capital. All three pushed back against the idea of invoking the act, and eventually Trump backed down.
This part of the story highlights the conflict within the White House on how to proceed:
Mr. Trump was talked out of the plan by the three officials. But a separate group of White House staff members wanted to leave open the option for Mr. Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act to call in the military to patrol the streets of the capital. They decided it would be prudent to have the necessary document vetted and ready in case the unrest in Washington worsened or the city’s mayor, Muriel Bowser, declined to take measures such as a citywide curfew, which she ultimately put in place.
Trump never invoked the act, of course. And as the Times writes, it had been previously reported that he had considered taking such action. Read this excerpt:
The basic facts of Mr. Trump’s deliberations about how to respond to the protests that broke out after the killing of Mr. Floyd have been widely reported. NBC News reported on June 1, 2020, that Mr. Trump was considering invoking the Insurrection Act. CNN later reported the White House wanted to deploy 10,000 troops onto the streets but that Mr. Esper and General Milley pushed back on the idea. But the new details help illustrate the intensity of Mr. Trump’s demands for militaristic action to curb the protests.
This new reporting underscores just how ifar along the talks had gone about using U.S. military troops on American streets in a law-enforcement capacity. The Insurrection Act has rarely been used. In fact, just twice in four decades has it been invoked — in 1989 in the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo, and in 1992 during the Rodney King riots in L.A.
A source described as a “former senior administration official” said Trump was aware that the proclamation had been prepared. In a statement to the Times, the former president denied he wanted to deploy active-duty soldiers.
But the intensity of the protests infuriated Trump, and media coverage of him being taken into the presidential bunker on May 29 only made him more upset, according to sources.
“We look weak,” Trump reportedly said.