As protesters near the White House demonstrated against the killing of George Floyd last summer, aides were preparing a proclamation allowing President Trump to put active-duty US troops on the streets of the capital. The document was drafted after an angry Trump told the attorney general and military leaders he wanted to deploy troops in the city on June 1, the New York Times reports. They dissuaded the president, but aides decided to have the proclamation at hand, should Trump change his mind. The Insurrection Act of 1807 gives the president the power to dispatch military and National Guard troops anywhere in the country, per the Hill, in the event of insurrection or civil unrest. That was the day that protesters were forcibly removed from Lafayette Park, across from the White House, and Trump held up a Bible outside St. John's Church, per CNN.
The former president told the Times he did not want to send in active-duty troops. "It's absolutely not true, and if it was true, I would have done it," Trump said. But officials said the president brought the notion up again over the next few weeks during demonstrations in other cities. Trump was especially irate at being embarrassed in the eyes of other nations. "We look weak," he told Attorney General William Barr, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Nonetheless, all three resisted using the Insurrection Act, officials said. White House aides also brought up the possibility of a federal takeover of the District of Columbia's police force. (A judge threw out most claims of rights violations against the Trump administration concerning the June 1 clashes.)