President Donald Trump told governors that he has put Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley in charge of the response to the ongoing protests across the country that have become violent in multiple cities, NBC News reports.
"General Milley is here who's head of Joint Chiefs of Staff, a fighter, a warrior, and a lot of victories and no losses," Trump says according to audio of the call. "And he hates to see the way it’s being handled in the various states. And I’ve just put him in charge."
Trump has repeatedly slammed governors and mayors for their handling of the protests that have become increasingly violent over the past week after the May 25 death of George Floyd, a black man who was captured on video begging for his life as white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck.
"Most of you are weak," Trump told the governors. "You have to arrest people."
The role of Milley, a U.S. Army general, would be unclear, NBC noted, as the U.S. military is not allowed to perform police powers inside U.S. borders under the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act.
Pentagon spokesperson U.S. Army Lt. Col. Chris Mitchell told NBC, "The chairman will continue to advise the secretary of Defense. As of this morning, 23 states and the District of Columbia had mobilized personnel in support of state and local authorities. Combined, they provided over 17,000 National Guard troops in support."
Trump has also considered invoking the 1807 Insurrection Act, which was used during the 1960s demonstrations, but has not been invoked since the 1992 Los Angeles riots following the Rodney King verdict. At that time, California Gov. Pete Wilson requested the act be invoked and the military used in his state.
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