Trump holes up at White House as protests tear through US
America is still waiting for an address from President Donald Trump about the protests tearing through its streets following the death of George Floyd.
After being briefly moved to an underground bunker during Friday night’s protests outside the White House, Trump spent Sunday night again sheltered as violence raged nearby amid protests from Minneapolis to Miami and Portland to Philadelphia.
In normal circumstances, a president could be expected to call for calm and perhaps deliver an Oval Office address.
But Trump’s instinct has been to exacerbate the sense of crisis and division — blasting the demonstrators as “THUGS” and calling for crackdowns, CNN’s Stephen Collinson writes.
Trump on Thursday fueled the incendiary tone around Floyd’s death when he invoked racist language from the 1960s by tweeting “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
He spent Friday attempting to strike a more measured tone and denying he was evoking a phrase with ties to brutal civil rights-era police tactics. At a roundtable with retail and restaurant executives, Trump disclosed that he’d spoken with the family of Floyd and said he wanted “to express our nation’s deepest condolences and most heartfelt sympathies.”
But on Saturday, hours after the protests outside the White House had ended, Trump commended the US Secret Service for protecting him inside his fortified mansion, saying he couldn’t have felt “more safe” as protesters gathered outside over Floyd’s death. The President tweeted that if protesters breached the White House’s fence, they would “have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen.”
On Sunday, he lashed out at Democrats and their party’s presumptive nominee Joe Biden as he sought to revive his 2016 claim to be the “law and order” candidate — a characterization that could help him distract from his mishandling of the pandemic.
“Get tough Democrat Mayors and Governors. These people are ANARCHISTS. Call in our National Guard NOW. The World is watching and laughing at you and Sleepy Joe. Is that what America wants? NO!!!”
Now, a serious divide has emerged among the President’s top allies and advisers over how he should address several nights of protests and riots.
Trump is being urged by some advisers to formally address the nation and call for calm, while others have said he should condemn the rioting and looting more forcefully or risk losing middle-of-the-road voters in November, according to several sources familiar with the deliberations.