On Tuesday, The Daily Beast detailed how President Donald Trump himself has been behind the push to use the military to control the protests against the police killing of George Floyd — to the extent that he actually asked about specific military equipment that would be available for that purpose.
“[Defense Secretary Mark] Esper, along with other cabinet secretaries, stood next to the president during the remarks in the park after participating in an hour-long call with governors in which he said they needed to ‘dominate the battlespace’ to quell the protests,” reported Erin Banco, Spencer Ackerman, and Asawin Suebsaeng. “But three senior Pentagon officials who spoke with The Daily Beast said they viewed the secretary’s comments on the call as a way to publicly show support for the president. They did not expect the department to actually implement a plan that would reflect the president’s rhetoric and force additional troops upon the states.”
“These Pentagon officials added that it was the White House, not the Defense Department, that was pushing for active military might in the streets,” continued the report. “In particular, the president has pressed aides and Pentagon officials for graphic details on the kind of armored vehicles, military units, aircraft, and even ‘tanks’ that they could potentially send to maintain order in U.S. areas rocked by protests and rioting, according to two people familiar with recent discussions.”
Trump has frequently shown a fondness for using the military to broadcast his strength. In 2019, he held a controversial military parade in Washington to mark the Fourth of July.