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Trump exploded after officials warned against using military troops to end George Floyd protests, book says

US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, left, President Donald Trump, center, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, right, await a meeting with senior military leaders in the room from the White House Cabinet on October 7. 2019. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP via Getty Images

  • Milley and Esper spoke out against Trump using troops to blunt Floyd’s protests, according to a new book.

  • Trump was intrigued by the idea of ​​invoking the insurgency law, according to the book.

  • At the start of the protests, Trump feared the United States was looking out of control.

  • See more stories on the Insider business page.

After George Floyd was killed while in Minneapolis Police custody in May 2020, millions of Americans took to the streets to protest his death and draw attention to racial injustice.

Immediately after Floyd’s death, Trump summoned General Mark Milley, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and other advisers to find a way to end the protests.

The president was enraged by a New York Times report he was taken to a bunker as protests near the White House turned violent, believing the news “made him look scared and weak,” according to a recent book. published by the Washington Post. journalists Carol D. Leonnig and Philip Rucker.

To dull the continued protests, Trump insisted that active-duty troops be used, which Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Esper sought to eliminate as an option.

Read more: Where are Trump’s staff now in the White House? We’ve created a searchable database of over 327 top employees to show where they all ended up

When Trump mentioned the race riots of the 1960s to justify using troops to restore order, Milley threw cold water on the suggestion, as part of a longer discussion that led the president to curse its principal military advisers, which Leonnig and Rucker detailed in “I Only Can Cure It: The Last Catastrophic Year of Donald J. Trump.”

“Mr. President, this nowhere compares to the summer of 68,” Milley said, according to the book. “It’s not even close.”

After Senior Advisor Stephen Miller intervened to declare the protests “an insurgency,” Milley pointed to a portrait of former President Abraham Lincoln, who ruled the country during the Civil War.

“Mr. President, this guy had an insurrection,” Milley said, according to the book. “You don’t have an insurgency. When the guys show up in gray and start bombing Fort Sumter, you’ll have an insurgency.”

Trump considered invoking the Insurrection Act, which would allow him to deploy troops across the country to quell any civil disorder or insurgency, but Milley and Esper continued to fight the idea.

By June 1, Trump had grown increasingly angry with the media coverage of the protests, urging governors and law enforcement to “dominate” the unrest nationwide.

“How do you think it looks like hostile countries? Trump said, according to the book. “They see we can’t even control our own capital and the space around the White House!”

After calling in troops again, Esper said the National Guard remained the best option to stop the unrest, but the president continued to slam the Resolute Desk and told the Secretary of Defense that he had no did enough to solve the problem, according to the book.

Trump sought to make Milley the leader of a law enforcement operation, but after the general reiterated he was not in an operational role, the president lost him.

Read more: Where are Trump’s staff now in the White House? We’ve created a searchable database of over 327 top employees to show where they all ended up

“You’re all screwed,” Trump said, according to the book. “Every one of you screwed up.”

Trump then looked at Vice President Mike Pence, who had been a silent observer, and directed his anger at his No.2.

“Including you!” the president said, according to the book.

Later that day, Trump, along with Milley, Esper, and several other advisers, marched from the White House complex to nearby St. John’s Episcopal Church.

The now infamous photoshoot, which showed the president holding a Bible outside the church after protesters were violently evacuated from Lafayette Park, immediately drew criticism. However, the Home Office inspector general determined in June 2021 that the US Parks Police and Secret Service had not cleared the park for Trump’s photoshoot, but had installed anti-lime fencing.

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