September 14, 2020
President Donald Trump threatened Thursday to “put … down very quickly” riots on election night, should aggrieved Democrats take to the streets in the wake of his potential victory, Politico reports.
The remarks from the president came in an interview with Fox News host Jeanine Pirro that is set to air Saturday, in which he was asked how he would respond to incidents of rioting should he be declared the winner on November 3.
“We’ll put them down very quickly if they do that. We have the right to do that. We have the power to do that, if we want,” Trump said.
“Look, it’s called insurrection,” he added. “We just send in, and we do it very easy. I mean, it’s very easy. I’d rather not do that because there’s no reason for it, but if we had to, we’d do that and put it down within minutes.”
Trump drew bipartisan criticism in June after police officers and National Guard troops fired rubber bullets and deployed flash-bang grenades to force largely peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters from Lafayette Square outside the White House.
The incursion against protesters by U.S. law enforcement officials allowed the president, top White House aides, and senior administration officials including Attorney General William Barr, to walk across the street to the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church — where Trump posed with an upside down Bible for a political photo opportunity.
Just a few weeks later, in July, Trump deployed an ambiguous mix of militarized officers from the Department of Homeland Security to Portland, Oregon, where they were captured on video using apparently unnecessary force against a Navy veteran and loading BLM protesters into unmarked cars.
At the same time, Biden has forcefully condemned all violence in American cities. However, Trump has been reluctant to speak out against violence perpetrated by his supporters in the form of counterprotests.
It is unclear whether there will be rioting on election night or if the White House race will even be called in the hours after the polls close, due to the significant expansion of mail-in voting amid the coronavirus pandemic, Politico says.
Trump has expressed vocal opposition to voting by mail, asserting without evidence that the virtual ballot-casting practice would result in widespread voter fraud and yield unfavorable electoral results for Republicans.
In august, Trump threatened that he would order law enforcement officials to polling places in an effort to deter illegal activity on Election Day, although it is unclear what authority he has to issue such a directive.
“We’re going to have everything,” Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity. “We’re going to have sheriffs, and we’re going to have law enforcement, and we’re going to have, hopefully, U.S. attorneys, and we’re going to have everybody and attorneys general.”
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows insisted at that juncture that Trump was not advocating a form of voter suppression, and Attorney General William Barr argued that sending federal agents to voting sites would be legal if they were responding to a “particular criminal threat” or “specific investigative danger.”
Research contact: @politico