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Trump calls governors ‘weak’ and tells them ‘to dominate’ rioters

President Donald J. Trump listens to a reporter’s question at an update briefing on testing capacity Monday, May 11, 2020, in the Rose Garden of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
June 01, 2020

 In a Monday teleconference, President Donald Trump criticized governors in many states for taking what he described as a “weak” approach to stopping recent riots, and urged them to “dominate” in their responses.

“You’re making a mistake because you’re making yourselves look like fools,” Trump told the governors, according to a recording of their teleconference reported by CBS. “And some have done a great job. But a lot of you, it’s not – it’s not a great day for our country.”

“You have to dominate, if you don’t dominate you’re wasting your time,” Trump said. “They’re going to run over you. You’re going to look like a bunch of jerks. You have to dominate.”

In another set of remarks, Trump criticized left-wing groups like Antifa for inciting much of the rioting, which has seen acts of vandalism and arson in cities across the country. He also suggested many of those rioting were just looters taking advantage of the chaos.

The violence, Trump said “is coming from the radical left — you know, it everybody knows it — but it’s also looters, and it’s people that figure they can get free stuff by running into stores and running out with television sets. I saw it — a kid has a lot of stuff, he puts it in the back of a brand new car and drives off. You have every one of these guys on tape. Why aren’t you prosecuting them? Now, the harder you are, the tougher you are, the less likely you’re going to be hit.”

“It’s happened numerous times. And the only time it’s successful is when you’re weak. And most of you are weak,” Trump added. “I will say this, what’s going on in Los Angeles — I have a friend lives in Los Angeles — they say all the storefronts are gone,” the president continued. “They’re all broken and gone. The merchandise is gone. It’s a shame. It didn’t look as bad to me — maybe it was the sunshine, I don’t know. But in Los Angeles, the storefronts are gone. Philadelphia’s a mess. What happened there is horrible.”

Trump’s comments come after he went into lockdown Sunday night at the White House. Rioters injured more than 60 secret service agents in Washington D.C. after they threw rocks, bricks, bottles, fireworks and other items and kicked and punched agents.

Trump has already offered up military assets for state governors, such as Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz.

On Saturday, Walz announced the full mobilization of his state’s National Guard units in response to ongoing rioting. Walz suggested militant groups had infiltrated peaceful protests, which first began in response to the death of George Floyd in police custody, and have since used the protests to instead for “attacking civil society.”

On Sunday, Trump also suggested he would designate Antifa as a terrorist organization.