Correction: Trump’s request that law enforcement “bust some heads” of Black Lives Matter protesters was made as they demonstrated during a June 22, 2020 protest in Lafayette Square. A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Trump made the remarks on June 1, the day he walked across Lafayette Square to a nearby church after protesters there were cleared by law enforcement.
Former President Donald Trump instructed Mark Meadows to “bust some heads and make some arrests” of Black Lives Matter protesters who had gathered outside the White House in the summer of 2020, the former chief of staff writes in his new book.
Trump gave the instruction on June 22 as protesters were “climbing on Lafayette Park’s famous statue of Andrew Jackson,” according to Meadows.
“Upstairs in the Residence, President Trump was growing anxious,” Meadows reportedly wrote in The Chief’s Chief, which published Tuesday. “He had given an order for the park to be cleared, and it was not being followed. The various law enforcement agencies that were supposed to be under the command of [then-Attorney General] Bill Barr were clearly not communicating with one another, and it did not seem that a single arrest had yet been made.”
“It looks like we have a situation out here,” Meadows said, according to the book. “They’re trying to tear down statues and vandalizing the park. I assume that we have the authority to deploy whatever law enforcement is necessary to fix this?”
Trump’s answer was yes, and more. “Not only do you have the authority,” the president said, according to Meadows. “I want you to go out there and bust some heads and make some arrests. We need to restore order.”
Meadows writes that he “was not quite prepared to crack anything,” but notes that he “went to the front door of the White House and spoke with the head of the Secret Service” and “pointed out that we had orders from President Trump to open up Pennsylvania Avenue.”
“The leaders of these forces were resisting, but it was clear that the officers on the ground felt the same way President Trump did,” Meadows added.
Meadows’ book has reportedly angered Trump, who feels betrayed by Meadows’ accounting of his presidency — including a story that Trump tested positive for Covid ahead of a debate with Biden, a week before the White House publicly acknowledged his diagnosis. Trump’s reported anger about that revelation prompted Meadows to call his own book “fake news” after Trump did. Perhaps in an effort to appease the former president further, Meadows announced through his lawyer on Tuesday that he no longer intends to cooperate with the congressional committee investigating Jan. 6.