Trump Hopes Strong ‘Law and Order’ Stance for DC Will Serve as Model for States

‘D.C. had no problems last night. Many arrests. Great job done by all. Overwhelming force. Domination…’

(Associated Press) Claiming he is backed by a “silent majority,” President Donald Trump turned the nation’s capital into a model for the overwhelming force he believes critical to stop sometimes-violent protests that have spread across the country in a time of racial unrest.

“D.C. had no problems last night. Many arrests. Great job done by all. Overwhelming force. Domination,” Trump tweeted Tuesday, after a night in which heavily armed military forces and federal officers swarmed the city. Trump added: “(thank you President Trump!).”

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Trump also emphasized the political importance of the moment to his supporters on Twitter and declared that “My Admin has done more for the Black Community than any President since Abraham Lincoln.”

The president wanted to make the aggressive action in the nation’s capital an example for the rest of the country, a senior White House official said Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss internal thinking.

Trump hoped his personal walk on Monday night across Lafayette Square to the nearby St. John’s Episcopal Church would send a message about how dominant force could restore law and order.

The president has threatened that if states do not take tough enough action, he will deploy active duty military across the country to quell unrest in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The District of Columbia’s federal status gives the president authority to act, allowing him to direct the deployment of the National Guard.

He authorized Attorney General William Barr to oversee a surge in the deployment of federal law enforcement officers, including the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team and agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Barr gave the order Monday afternoon for law enforcement to clear out the protest before Trump’s walk to the church and ahead of Washington’s 7 p.m. curfew. Officials said the decision to clear the park was made earlier in the day in response to violence the night before.

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President Donald Trump visits Saint John Paul II National Shrine. / PHOTO: Associated Press

Trump also ordered military aircraft to fly above Washington on Monday night as a “show of force,” according to two Defense Department officials.

They said the U.S. military and National Guard were operating under the mission name “Operation Themis.” In Greek mythology, Themis is a titaness of divine law and order, whose symbols are the scales of justice.

Trump reacted to the clearing of the protesters with enthusiasm, pumping his fist at officers in the park. But some White House and Justice Department officials privately acknowledged that Monday’s events didn’t serve the administration well.

Trump on Tuesday appeared to be backing off his threat to deploy federal troops to quell unrest under the 1807 Insurrection Act. White House officials said Monday night’s events indicated that the resources already available to local governments should be able to restore order.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said of Trump posing for photos holding up a Bible: “I just wish he opened it once in a while.”

And D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said of the routing of the protesters, “At no time do we think it was appropriate that people who had not violated the curfew or anything else received that treatment.”