President Donald Trump, who has weathered criticism for deciding to use tear gas to clear peaceful protesters for a photo-op in front of St. John’s Church in Washington, D.C., doubled down on the decision, writing on Twitter that the National Guard “could hardly believe how easy it was” to follow his order.
Our great National Guard Troops who took care of the area around the White House could hardly believe how easy it was,” Trump wrote, while purporting to quote one member who allegedly called the action “a walk in the park.”
“The protesters, agitators, anarchists (ANTIFA), and others, were handled VERY easily by the Guard, D.C. Police, & S.S. GREAT JOB!” he continued.
Our great National Guard Troops who took care of the area around the White House could hardly believe how easy it was. “A walk in the park”, one said. The protesters, agitators, anarchists (ANTIFA), and others, were handled VERY easily by the Guard, D.C. Police, & S.S. GREAT JOB!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 11, 2020
The president has often mused about “dominating” and crushing the protests against systemic racism and police brutality that have erupted since the killing George Floyd, an unnarmed black man in police custody in Minneapolis. Despite his fervor for military might, members of the National Guard were withdrawn from the nation’s capital. Trump had wanted them to remain armed, but Defense Secretary Mark Esper later ordered national guardsmen to disarm entirely. He also announced he would not support the use of the Insurrection Act, a move that went against the president’s wishes.
Trump’s comments also come during a week he’s spent denigrating his political opponents, including his former Defense Secretary James Mattis. Earlier this week, the president called the celebrated military general, who’d voiced his opposition to Trump’s response to the protests and bemoaned the “consequences” of a lack of “mature” leadership, “overrated.”
Mattis “talked a lot, but never ‘brought home the bacon,’” Trump said at the time. “He was terrible! Someday I will tell the real story on him and others – both good and bad!”