White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Monday that the president was considering invoking the Insurrection Act to send federal troops to police the streets of America’s major cities in order to stop riots, but that the focus now iss currently on encouraging governors to utilize the National Guard.
“It’s one of the tools available, whether the president decides to do that, that is his prerogative,” she said in response to questions about the president using the Insurrection Act.
The Insurrection Act of 1807 allows the president to call up federal troops to help restore the peace. It was invoked by President George H.W. Bush to send troops to help quell the 1992 Rodney King riots in Los Angeles.
McEnany emphasized that the Constitution gave governors the police power to prevent violence and that the president wanted to see more governors utilize the full potential of their states’ National Guard resources.
“Right now we’re looking on a focus on the National Guard, that’s where it currently stands,” she said.
The president scolded governors for failing their communities in a video conference call with them on Monday morning in the Situation Room of the White House.
He praised the Minnesota National Guard for acting quickly to “dominate” the streets.
“Those guys walked through that stuff like it was butter,” Trump said. “They got out and were wearing dark black uniforms … they were there in the thousands, they just walked right down the street, knocking them out with tear gas.”
Gen. Mark Milley said that the National Guard was a useful resource because the troops in the guard were local residents and did not appear to be an “occupying force.”
But Trump said that an occupying force was almost necessary.
“I must tell you, it got so bad a few nights ago, the people wouldn’t have minded an occupying force, I wish we had an occupying force in there,” he said.
Several governors were deeply angered by the president’s advice, including Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer who complained that the president “viciously attacked” governors in that call.
“I do not know why Governor Whitmer would be dismayed at the president telling governors to do their jobs,” McEnany said. “It is their responsibility to police their streets.”
She said President Trump encouraged governors to “dominate their streets” with police and troops in the National Guard.
“It has gotten to the point where today, the president has said enough is enough,” she said. “There are tools we can use.”