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"A Declaration of War Against Americans": Trump Threatens to Deploy Military to Quell Protests

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As a historic week-long uprising against police violence continues and curfews are in place across the United States, President Trump has declared himself "the president of law and order" and threatened to send thousands of heavily armed soldiers into the streets. "President Trump's speech almost amounted to a declaration of war against Americans," says Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. We also speak with William Arkin, longtime reporter on the military, who notes Trump is getting "no pushback" from Defense Department officials.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we have so much to do today as an historic week-long uprising against police violence continues and curfews are in place across the United States. President Trump has declared himself "the president of law and order" and threatened Monday to send thousands of heavily armed soldiers into the streets.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them. I am also taking swift and decisive action to protect our great capital, Washington, D.C. What happened in this city last night was a total disgrace. As we speak, I am dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel and law enforcement officers to stop the rioting, looting, vandalism, assaults and the wanton destruction of property.

AMY GOODMAN: While Trump spoke from the Rose Garden, blasts could be heard from nearby Lafayette Park as the National Guard and officers dressed in riot gear fired tear gas, rubber bullets and flash-bangs to disperse peaceful protesters. Moments later, Trump walked through the cleared park to have his photo taken with a Bible in front of St. John's Episcopal Church, which was boarded up. When he returned to the White House, Trump refused to take questions from reporters as he pumped his fist and posed for another photo op.

JIM ACOSTA: Do you have a word for the protesters that were tear-gassed so you could make that trip, Mr. President?

REPORTER: Mr. President, what are you doing about excessive police use of force?

JIM ACOSTA: Mr. President, is this still a democracy?

AMY GOODMAN: That last reporter saying, "Mr. President, is this still a democracy?"

The president's actions were widely denounced. D.C. Episcopal Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde criticized Trump for using the church as a, quote, "backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus," unquote. Oregon Senator Ron Wyden wrote on Twitter, quote, "The fascist speech Donald Trump just delivered verged on a declaration of war against American citizens." The chief of police in Arlington County, Virginia, pulled his officers from D.C. after they were used to clear the park, saying their safety and the safety of others was endangered for a photo op.

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