Posts tagged with "Protests"

Trump intended to fire Esper over troops dispute

June 11, 2020

Only “yes men” get tenure in the Trump White House. President Donald Trump last week was on the verge of firing Defense Secretary Mark Esper—who has held his position officially for less than one year—over their differing views about domestic use of active-duty military. However, advisers and allies on Capitol Hill talked him out of it, according to several officials who talked exclusively to The Wall Street Journal.

The officials said that Trump was furious with Esper for not supporting his intent to use active-duty troops to quell protests in Washington, D.C., Minneapolis and elsewhere following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.

The discord surfaced, the Journal said, when Esper said on June 3 that he didn’t think using federal troops in American streets was warranted at that time. The comments, made in an opening statement at a news conference at the Pentagon, echoed his remarks the night before in an NBC interview. The news conference comments weren’t vetted beforehand by the White House, and the statement caught officials there off guard, two officials said.

“The option to use active-duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort,” the defense secretary said at that time. “And only in the most urgent and dire of situations. We are not in one of those situations now.”

The disagreement between the two reflected the extent of differences on the issue of active-duty troops between the president and the Pentagon, where military and defense leaders were adamantly opposed to deploying federal forces to contain protesters as fundamentally at odds with military values.

A decision to fire the Pentagon chief that day also would have meant a major shake-up in the administration amid one of the biggest security crises of Trump’s presidency, the Journal noted.

The president asked several advisers for their opinion of the disagreement, with the objective that day of removing Esper, his fourth defense secretary, according to the officials. After talks with the advisers, who cautioned against the move, Trump set aside the plans to immediately fire Esper, the Journal reports.

At the same time, however, Esper, who was well aware of  the president’s feelings, was making his own preparations to resign—partly in frustration over the differences regarding the role of the military, the officials said. He had begun to prepare a letter of resignation before he was persuaded not to do so by aides and other advisers, according to some of the officials.

As advisers scrambled to avert the upheaval, Trump’s June 1 threat to send military forces into American cities emerged as a flashpoint, provoking national debate and drawing condemnation from onetime Trump aides.

Approximately 1,600 federal troops brought to the Washington, D.C., area were at that time poised for possible deployment in what was widely seen as a crossroads for the United States.

The officials said that President Trump and White House officials also were perturbed by Mr. Esper’s public comments indicating he didn’t know that a June 1 walk by. Trump and an entourage of officials that included Esper was set up for the purpose of taking photographs by a church near the White House that had been damaged in violence. Security forces including the National Guard forcibly removed protesters to allow for the photo session.

Advisers consulted by Mr. Trump that day included White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows; Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; longtime Trump friend and outside adviser David Urban; and Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), the officials said.

Research contact: @wsjournal

In tweets about Minneapolis protesters, Trump is accused of “glorifying violence” against them

June 1, 2020

“When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” President Donald Trump threatened by tweet early on Friday, May 30, as Minneapolis and other urban centers nationwide faced violent protests—touched off by the murder of a black man by a white police officer, who placed his knee on the victim’s neck for more than five minutes, despite hearing his cries of “I can’t breathe.”

That officer and four other backup cops have been fired by the Minneapolis Police Department; however, they have not been arrested and no charges have been filed, while the department and federal authorities investigate the incident.

Trump began tweeting about the unrest in Minneapolis around 1 a.m., as cable news showed the police station— where the four city police officers involved in the death of George Floyd were assigned—Inengulfed in a fire set by protesters a short time earlier, The New York Times reported. Protesters also had begun looting businesses in the area.

By the time the president had posted his string of tweets, Governor Tim Walz of Minnesota already had activated and deployed the National Guard in response to a request from local leaders.

“I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis,” Trump said on Twitter. “A total lack of leadership. Either the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right.”

“These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen,” the president wrote in another tweet, which was flagged by Twitter. “Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”

In saying “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” the president intentionally echoed a phrase coined by a Miami police chief in the 1960s about crackdowns on black neighborhoods during times of unrest.

Twitter officials responded to the threat by appending the tweets with a note saying the posts were “glorifying violence.” The social media site also made it more difficult for readers to see the feed of those comments:  “Mr. Trump’s post can now only be seen after users click a box with a notice saying it violated Twitter’s rules against encouraging violence, but it otherwise remains visible.”

The official White House Twitter account repeated Trump’s comments in a Friday morning tweet, and Twitter appended the same notice to that tweet. The same comments appeared on Mr. Trump’s Facebook account without a cautionary notice.

“We’ve taken action in the interest of preventing others from being inspired to commit violent acts, but have kept the Tweet on Twitter because it is important that the public still be able to see the Tweet given its relevance to ongoing matters of public importance,” Twitter said on its official communications account.

Research contact: @nytimes

‘Trump baby’ blimp will fly over London during president’s visit

July 6, 2018

A giant balloon dubbed “Trump baby” has been given the green light to fly near London’s House of Parliament during the POTUS’s U.K. visit on July 13, Sky News reports. London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s Greater London Authority has approved a request for the flight after thousands signed a petition and a crowdfunding campaign raised more than US$21,000 to get the 20-foot inflatable off the ground.

Strict rules are in place for the flight from Parliament Square Gardens, with the balloon being tethered to the ground and restricted from floating higher than 98 feet in the air. It will go aloft between 9.30 a.m. and 11.30 a.m., coinciding with a “Stop Trump” march in central London.

A spokesperson for Khan said: “The Mayor supports the right to peaceful protest and understands that this can take many different forms. His city operations team have met with the organizers and have given them permission to use Parliament Square Garden as a grounding point for the blimp.”

Demonstrators say the Metropolitan Police are in charge of local airspace on the day, have seen their plans, and currently “are happy for the flight to go ahead,” but maintain a right of veto on the day.

The group behind the stunt—who call themselves anti-fascist “art activists“—

Photo source: Trump Baby UK

are now liaising with the Met and the Civil Aviation Authority to ensure airspace over London is managed safely on the day.

Activist Leo Murray told Sky News: “We didn’t get off to the best start with the Mayor’s office over this, who originally told us that they didn’t recognize Trump Baby as legitimate protest. But, following a huge groundswell of public support for our plan, it looks like City Hall has rediscovered its sense of humor. Trump Baby will fly!”

Murray has described the balloon as an “obscene mutant clone of the president” and says it will “hold up a huge mirror of truth” to the world. Describing Trump as a “dangerous excuse for a president”, the group’s spokesperson, Nona Hurkmans, said: “We are just a small group of friends who set out to show that fascists are not welcome in the UK.

“We have been genuinely overwhelmed and touched by the incredible levels of support we have received for our project.”

Activists also hope to take “Trump Baby” on a world tour following the president’s visit.

Research contact: @SkyNews