President Trump pushed governors to use more aggressive tactics against protesters, according to leaked audio of Monday video teleconference call.
Several reports quoted the president telling the governors that they are “weak” and “not doing enough” to quell demonstrations. Trump also said that the governors “were a laughingstock all over the world.”
“You’re making a mistake because you’re making yourselves look like fools,” the president told the governors while urging them “dominate” the protesters.
“You have to dominate. If you don’t dominate, you’re wasting your time. They’re going to run over you. You’re going to look like a bunch of jerks. You have to dominate,” Trump said.
CBS News said one source characterized Trump’s language and tone as “unhinged.” And CNN released an audio portion of the hour-long call where the president can be heard telling the governors that “the whole world was laughing” at them.
Here's the audio of that remarkable call where Trump lashes out at governors and says they need to crack down on protesters. pic.twitter.com/ANSsniYItN
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) June 1, 2020
Trump continued by pushing the governors to use the National Guard.
“If you’re weak and don’t dominate your streets, they’re going to stay with you until you finally do it. And you don’t want it. Philadelphia, you’d better toughen up. Because what’s going on in Philadelphia, like New York, is terrible. It’s terrible,” Trump said, adding, “You’d better toughen — they’ll never leave. I know you want to say, ‘Oh, let’s not call up the Guard, let’s call up 200 people.’ You’ve got a big National Guard out there that’s ready to come in and fight like hell.”
Illinois Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker responded to Trump during the call and told the president that his rhetoric was inflaming the situation.
“We have to call for calm, we have to have police reform called for… The rhetoric coming out of the White House is making it worse,” Pritzker said.
Trump snapped back at the governor and said, “I don’t like your rhetoric much, either. But that’s okay, we don’t agree with each other.”
Full audio of the call is available at the Washington Post.