Something you may have picked up on during the anni horribiles that were 2016 to 2020 is that Donald Trump doesn’t deal well with people who have different viewpoints than his own, and that his solution to dealing with said people is to encourage all manner of violence against them. In February 2016, after a protester was ejected from one of his rallies in Las Vegas, the then candidate mused, “I’d like to punch him in the face.” As president, he appeared to urge police offers to knock suspects’ heads against the side of their squad cars and not to worry about being accused of using excessive force. One time, he praised a congressman for assaulting a reporter who’d had the audacity to ask a question about health care. And of course, there was the day in January 2021 when he sicced a violent mob on the U.S. Capitol and then claimed their actions were justified.
So really, it’s entirely within character, if nevertheless still horrifying, to learn that Trump repeatedly demanded the military shoot racial-justice protesters and/or bash their heads in, according to a new book by Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender titled Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost. Per CNN:
According to Bender, when Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley and then Attorney General Bill Barr explained to Trump that they couldn’t “just shoot” people, the president came up with an alternative suggestion. “Well, shoot them in the leg—or maybe the foot,” Trump reportedly said. “But be hard on them!” (CNN reached out to Trump about the claims in Bender’s book.)
Bender also reports that Milley and former Defense Secretary Mark Esper were concerned that Trump would invoke the Insurrection Act over the protests, which he threatened to do. Obviously, such a move would have been wildly out of proportion with what was actually going on, a point Milley apparently tried to stress to Trump using visual aids.
“That guy had an insurrection,” Milley told Trump. “What we have, Mr. President, is a protest.”
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