President Trump’s Rose Garden remarks Monday night triggered a firestorm of criticism from congressional Democrats, several of whom denounced the president’s threat to deploy the military domestically as the behavior of a would-be authoritarian leader.
Trump made the Rose Garden address as protests over the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, in Minneapolis police custody continued to roil the country.
“It is un-American to use our service members to ‘dominate’ civilians, as both the President and Secretary of Defense have suggested,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said in a statement. “We live in a democracy, not a dictatorship.”
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) decried Trump’s remarks as “fascist,” while Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) tweeted that Trump had “just declared war on millions of Americans and the 1st Amendment.”
“He is the greatest threat to the American way of life in our history,” Yarmuth said.
Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) noted that Trump’s actions Monday stood in contrast to those of another president who previously deployed federal troops domestically.
“In 1957, President Dwight Eisenhower invoked the Insurrection Act to combat segregation & protect civil rights,” Neguse tweeted. “Today, @realDonaldTrump did the opposite — deploying troops against citizens protesting for their civil rights. Vote. The fate of our republic depends on it.”
Many Democrats also assailed Trump’s decision to hold a photo opportunity outside St. John’s Episcopal Church after his remarks.
“How low can this president go? President Trump ordered federal authorities to fire tear gas at peaceful protesters so that he could hold a photo op to appear like a tough guy,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a tweet.
Some Republicans, however, praised Trump for making what they described as a show of strength.
“Security moms thank @realDonaldTrump for standing against rioters, looters and evil that would destroy our cities,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) tweeted.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) praised Trump’s “#LEADERSHIP,” while Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) took issue with the media’s coverage of the protests near the White House.
In a tweet, Rubio described the protest as “another dangerous situation” in front of the White House — even though the demonstration was progressing peacefully.
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