President Trump delivered his first formal address Monday evening amid mounting protests nationwide in the wake of George Floyd’s death, saying that he has “strongly recommended” that every governor deploy the National Guard to “dominate the streets.”
The President’s remarks in the Rose Garden came as federal police used tear gas and flash bangs to disperse a seemingly peaceful crowd outside the White House, creating a surreal split screen as unrest boils over in cities across the country.
The aggressive police tacts were apparently used so that Trump could make a surprise visit to St. John’s Episcopal Church — a historic church near the White House that was vandalized during protests the night before. The President stood in front of the church and waved alongside senior officials, including chief of staff Mark Meadows, Attorney General Bill Barr, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and press secretary Kayleigh McEnany for a photo-op. Trump also awkwardly waved around a Bible.
As the President left the White House to walk toward the church, a White House pool report noted the remarkable conditions on the ground: “Remnants of gas has your pooler and others coughing and choking.”
During his brief speech from the Rose Garden, Trump echoed comments he made earlier in the day about “dominating” protests.
“Mayors and governors must establish an overwhelming law enforcement presence until the violence has been quelled,” Trump said. “If the city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residence, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.”
Trump: "I have strongly recommended to every governor to deploy the National Guard in sufficient numbers that we dominate the streets." pic.twitter.com/0NqKuVNEbU
— Talking Points Memo (@TPM) June 1, 2020