Trump urges U.S. governors to get tougher on protesters, media reports say
President Donald Trump told U.S. governors in a call on Monday their response to nationwide protests made them look weak and they should take a tougher stance, according to media reports.
“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, according to CBS News, which cited audio it had obtained.
Trump threatened to get tough himself and “activate” U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr, CBS said. He urged governors to seek retribution, make sweeping arrests and pass laws against burning flags, CBS and the New York Times reported.
Representatives for the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the call after violent protests punctured peaceful demonstrations over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in police custody in Minneapolis last week.
Several news outlets said Democratic Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker told Trump that his rhetoric was making a volatile situation worse, drawing a retort from the Republican president. Trump has made no major public statement since Floyd died last week, but has issued multiple tweets pushing a tough response.
Barr, who was scheduled to meet Trump at the White House earlier on Monday, was also on the call, the Wall Street Journal said.