Defense Secretary Mark Esper told the nation’s governors they should use thousands of National Guard forces to ‘dominate the battle-space’ – on a call where the President Trump told them they would look like ‘fools’ otherwise.
Esper pressed governors on the call Monday morning to dramatically increase the use of National Guard troops on the streets, after the president scolded them, saying they would have to ‘dominate or you’ll look like a bunch of jerks.
‘At my urging, I agree we need to dominate the battle-space,’ Esper told the governors, who assembled on a conference call.
‘We need to dominate the battle-space,’ Defense Secretary Mark Esper told governors on a conference call with President Trump Monday
He told them only 17,000 National Guard forces had been deployed – and said only two jurisdictions had more than 1,000 in place. The White House later reinforced the point by saying hundreds of thousands of troops were available.
‘We have deep resources in the Guard,’ he said. ‘I stand ready, the chairman [of the joint chiefs’ stands ready, the head of the National Guard stands ready to fully support you in terms of helping to mobilize the Guard,’ he said.
‘Most of the guard is not being called up. There’s only a few states, I count two states where more than 1,000 troops have been called up,’ said Esper, who succeeded Defense Secretary Jim Mattis after officials including himself held the post in an acting capacity.
‘There will be a central command center in conjunction with state and local governments,’ said White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, when asked about Trump’s statement he would put Gen. Mark Milley in charge of the response
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the president wants governors to call up more National Guard troops
California National Guard soldiers stand guard outside a bike center during nationwide unrest following the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, amid the global novel coronavirus outbreak in Santa Monica, California, U.S., June 1, 2020
A member of the National Guard stands at the entrance to the Santa Monica Pier, the morning after rioting and looting caused widespread damage, on June 1, 2020 in Santa Monica, California
People, who gathered to protest the death of George Floyd, face off with Metropolitan Police District officers near the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 31 May 2020
Violent protesters surrounded the White House for a fourth day on Sunday and it was revealed that Donald Trump was taken, for a short period of time, to the bunker in the residence on Friday and has expressed he is concerned for his safety
George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died on Memorial Day as he was arrested by four police officers over allegedly trying to buy cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. He was seen in a video pleading that he couldn’t breathe as white officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee against his neck
‘I think the sooner that you mass and dominate the battle space, the quicker this dissipates and we can get back to the right normal,’ he told them.
He spoke after another night of angry street clashes that began with protests over the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis polis.
Trump jumped back on after Esper spoke and said Guard forces want to ‘fight for the country.’
‘I don’t know what it is politically when you don’t want to call out people,’ Trump groused. ‘They are ready willing and able. They want to fight for the country,’ he said.
He told governors: ‘We’re waiting for you. We’re shocked at certain areas – LA,’ he said, calling out the California metropolis that feature clashes between protesters and police.
‘You’re not calling them up. I don’t know. But you’re making a mistake because you’re making yourself look like fools,’ he told them, according to an audio obtained by the Washington Post.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany drove home the point at a White House press briefing, where she said Guard troops were deployed in 24 states, with a total of 350,000 troops available ‘overall and for the lawlessness we are seeing, far more needs to be done.’
‘More needs to be done. Governors across the country must act, deploy the National Guard as is fit, and protect communities,’ she said. She pointed to police lines that have clashed with demonstrators, and repeatedly brought up looting and window-smashing in the area just around the White House.
‘Those lines have been overwhelmed by massive protests that have turned into riots. … When those are overwhelmed, law enforcement gets on the defense. So what the president has said is he wants to dominate the streets with national guard, with a police presence,’ she said.
She got asked about Trump’s statement that he would but Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley in charge of the response.
‘There will be assets to put across the nation. There will be a central command center in conjunction with state and local governments that will include general Milley and Attorney General Barr,’ she said.
The federal Posse Comitatus statute prohibits the use of the Army and the Navy as a force inside the country. She cited the Insurrection act, which was amended in 2006 and allows the president to use the guard to ‘suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy if such insurrection, violation, combination, or conspiracy results in a condition’ that ‘hinders the execution of the laws of a State.’
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a statement blasting the call, which she called ‘deeply disturbing.’
‘I do not know why governor Whitmer would be dismayed at the president telling governors to do their job,’ McEnany responded when DailyMail.com asked her about the comment at Monday’s White House press briefing.
‘It is their responsibility to police their streets. They have the police power embedded in the Constitution. They have quite clearly, many of them, failed to do their job,’ she said.
‘It has gotten to the point where today, the president has said enough is enough. There are tools we can use. Namely deploying the National Guard, namely. Many others – the Insurrection Act,’ she said, referencing another authority she got asked about.
‘That is one of the tools available. Whether the president decides to do that, that is his prerogative. Right now, we are focusing on the National Guard,’ she said. ‘That’s where it currently stands.
She said Trump was ‘encouraging the governors to up those levels’ and said there would be ‘additional federal assets deployed across the nation.’
She called out the differences between peaceful protests and violent protesters, and provided an unusual coda to the White House briefing by playing video of scenes where law enforcement forged bonds with peaceful protesters.
Whitmer said in a blistering statement: ‘Instead of offering support or leadership to bring down the temperature at protests, President Trump told governors to ‘put it down’ or we would be ‘overridden.’ He said governors should ‘dominate’ protesters, ‘or you’ll look like a bunch of jerks.’ The president repeatedly and viciously attacked governors, who are doing everything they can to keep the peace while fighting a once-in-a-generation global pandemic.’