President Donald Trump took a harsh tone with the country's governors on Monday in a conference call about the protests and civil unrest around the nation. CBS News acquired audio from the president's teleconference with other leaders, where he called them "weak" for their response to the demonstrations so far. He warned that the law enforcement presence around Washington, D.C. will increase starting on Monday.
Trump told governors to step up their law enforcement efforts in ongoing demonstrations, saying "you have to dominate" the protesters — "if you don't dominate you’re wasting your time." He advised them specifically to make more arrests and impose harsher punishments, bragging that he intended to do so in the nation's capital. "Washington was under very good control, but we're going to have it under much more control," he said. "We're going to pull in thousands of people. We're going to clamp down very, very strong."
TRUMP ADDS: "You know when other countries watch this, they’re watching this, the next day wow, they’re really a push over. And we can’t be a push over. And we have all the resources – it’s not like we don’t have the resources. So, I don’t know what you’re doing."— Ed O'Keefe (@edokeefe) June 1, 2020
The president's comments seem to reflect Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser's announcement that on Monday, the city would be subject to a 7 p.m. curfew. However, Bowser also expressed her sympathy with the protesters and has condemned some of the president's rhetoric on social media.
A source listening to Monday's teleconference told CBS News that the president sounded "unhinged" during the remarks. He repeatedly called out governors of major U.S. states, holding them personally responsible for the violence in their streets. He urged them to make more use of the National Guard and other military capabilities.
"You're making a mistake because you're making yourselves look like fools," he said. "And some have done a great job. But a lot of you, it's not – it's not a great day for our country... they're going to run over you. You're going to look like a bunch of jerks. You have to dominate."
My police department will always protect DC and all who are in it whether I agree with them (such as those exercising their First Amendment Right) or those I don’t (namely, @realdonaldtrump)...— Muriel Bowser #StayHomeDC Lite (@MurielBowser) May 30, 2020
The president also continued his assertion that the violent aspect of the demonstrations "is coming from the radical left." This weekend, he said that he wanted to designate "Antifa" as a domestic terror organization, though according to CNN, the anti-fascist organization is "amorphous," and likely represents a label without leadership. Federal law enforcement agencies including the FBI have repeatedly warned that white supremacist groups are the greatest rising threat of the last few years, with director Christopher Wray saying that they sometimes surpassed the threat of foreign terrorist groups.
Some governors did push back against the president on the call, including Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker who reportedly said: "the rhetoric coming out of the White House is making it worse." The president responded: "I don't like your rhetoric much, either."