His response came after Trump denounced Black Lives Matter protesters as “agitators and thugs” on Sunday morning, calling for a federal crackdown on demonstrations in cities such as Washington and Portland, where a man died after tensions between pro-Trump and liberal groups burst into violence.
Starting before 6 a.m., Trump let loose a barrage of nearly 90 tweets and retweets touting his chances for reelection, attacking Democratic state and local officials over ongoing protests, and defending aggressive actions by his supporters in Portland, who appeared to be firing paintballs and pepper spray at people from pickup trucks as they drove through city streets on Saturday night.
“The people of Portland won’t put up with no safety any longer. The Mayor is a FOOL. Bring in the National Guard!” Trump wrote.
Soon after, Trump responded to a video from Saturday that appeared to show a caravan of hundreds of vehicles bearing pro-Trump signs and flags driving toward downtown Portland, writing: “GREAT PATRIOTS!”
In response to a video that seemed to show BLM protesters confronting a motorist in D.C., Trump tweeted that Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) should “Clean up D.C. or the Federal Government will do it for you. Enough!!!”
He ended his string of tweets just after 8 a.m. with a call for “LAW & ORDER!!!"
Trump’s frenzied effort to discredit BLM protesters and Democratic leaders came as he prepares to travel on Tuesday to Kenosha, Wis., where Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was left paralyzed a week ago after a police officer shot him in the back. The episode set off a wave of protests and destruction in the city. Two people were fatally shot amid the chaos on Tuesday night, and Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old from Antioch, Ill., who seemingly idolized police, was arrested and charged with first-degree intentional homicide.
Kate Bedingfield, deputy campaign manager for Joe Biden, said Sunday morning that Trump has incited violence as protests against police brutality sweep the country.
“He has encouraged his supporters to go out, to be aggressive,” she said on “Fox News Sunday.” “It is better for this president if there is more anarchy, more violence, more chaos. He has at every opportunity tried to fan the flames here. And that is the reason we are living in Donald Trump’s America.”
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows described Trump as being “on the side of law enforcement and the rule of law.”
“Most of Donald Trump’s America is peaceful,” Meadows said in an interview with NBC News’s “Meet the Press.”
“It is a Democrat-led city in Portland that we are talking about this morning that just yesterday denied help from the federal government,” he added, noting that Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has declined Trump’s offer to send federal law enforcement personnel to the city.
Rep. Cedric L. Richmond (D-La.), a co-chair of Biden’s presidential campaign and former head of the Congressional Black Caucus, said Trump has to “own this moment.”
Meadows “said President Trump is on the side of law enforcement,” Richmond told “Meet the Press.” “Well, the question becomes: Who is on the side of justice? Who is on the side of constitutional policing? It’s not about law enforcement or protesters. It’s about making sure that police are held accountable when they violate people’s constitutional rights, when they shoot unarmed Black people.”
Acting homeland security secretary Chad Wolf blamed “local and state officials not allowing law enforcement to do their job and really to bring this violent activity night after night after night to a close.”
On ABC News’s “This Week,” he said, “All options continue to be on the table, specifically as we talk about Portland.”
“The president has been very clear on this, as you know. We [are] happy to provide resources to bring this violence to an end, violence that, again, across the ideological spectrum, left or right, the violence needs to end,” he said.
Asked on CBS News’s “Face the Nation” whether Trump’s rhetoric had raised tensions, Wolf said “absolutely not” and accused local officials of fostering “an environment of this lawlessness and chaos.”