President Donald Trump threatened Thursday to “put … down very quickly” riots on election night should aggrieved Democrats take to the streets in the wake of his potential victory.
The remarks from the president came in an interview with Fox News host Jeanine Pirro set to air Saturday, in which he was asked how he would respond to incidents of rioting should he be declared the winner on Nov. 3.
“We’ll put them down very quickly if they do that. We have the right to do that. We have the power to do that, if we want,” Trump said.
“Look, it’s called insurrection,” he added. “We just send in, and we do it very easy. I mean, it’s very easy. I’d rather not do that because there’s no reason for it, but if we had to, we’d do that and put it down within minutes.”
Trump drew bipartisan criticism in June after police officers and National Guard troops fired rubber bullets and deployed flash-bang grenades to force largely peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square outside the White House.
The incursion against protesters by U.S. law enforcement officials allowed the president, top White House aides and senior administration officials to walk across the street to the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church — where Trump posed with a Bible for a political photo opportunity.
Amid other mass demonstrations this summer against police brutality and racial injustice, Trump has faced further scrutiny for his treatment of protesters and at times unwelcome federal intervention.
In July, Trump deployed an ambiguous mix of militarized officers from the Department of Homeland Security to Portland, Ore., where they were captured on video using apparently unnecessary force against a Navy veteran and loading protesters into unmarked cars.
As the general election campaign has ramped up, Trump has sought to highlight the looting and rioting that has accompanied some of the nationwide protests, while claiming Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden would allow the unrest to continue.
Biden has forcefully condemned all violence in American cities, while Trump has been reluctant to speak out against violence perpetrated by his supporters in the form of counter-protests.