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Trump pushes military response to civil unrest

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  • Donald Trump
    Donald Trump
    45th President of the United States

President Donald Trump continued to push for the U.S. military to quell unrest Tuesday - promoting "Overwhelming force" and "Domination" - as authorities across the country prepared for another night of protests over the killing of George Floyd and the use of excessive force by police against African Americans.

The day before, Trump vowed that if mayors and governors refuse to take necessary action...

TRUMP: "...then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them."

Since then, many have criticized Trump’s idea of inserting the military to put an end to unrest, including some previously reticent to speak up such as former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, who voiced his concern in an op-ed for The Atlantic titled "I Cannot Remain Silent" in which he stresses that "Our fellow citizens are not the enemy" and worries that "our military will be co-opted for political purposes."

Others have asked: Does Trump have the authority to send federal troops into a state? The answer is: yes.

To deploy the armed forces, Trump would need to formally invoke a group of statutes known as the Insurrection Act, which permits U.S. troops to suppress a domestic insurrection that has hampered the normal enforcement of U.S. law.

Past presidents have invoked the Insurrection Act - Thomas Jefferson being the first.

Others have used it more than once, including Lyndon Johnson, who used it the most, invoking the law a total of four times - three of them following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

The last president to invoke the Insurrection Act was George H.W Bush in 1992, when the acquittal of four Los Angeles police officers in the beating of Rodney King led to deadly riots.

Though, historically, presidents and governors have usually agreed on the need for troops. But one national security law professor tells Reuters that agreement is not always necessary.

But in 2005, former President George W. Bush decided not to invoke the Insurrection Act to send active-duty troops to Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in part because the state's then-governor opposed the move.

A successful legal challenge to Trump's use of the law is unlikely, according to legal experts, as the courts have historically been very reluctant to second-guess a president's military declarations.

That leaves the legislative branch.

SENATOR SCHUMER: "The president of the United States ordered troops to attack peaceful American citizens.

Senate Democrats on Tuesday failed to win passage of a resolution condemning Trump's use of force against peaceful demonstrators in Washington Monday night, after Republicans blocked the move.

But Democratic Senator Tim Kaine or Virginia, Hillary Clinton's 2016 running mate, said the same day he would try to make it illegal for the president to use the military against protesters by introducing an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, which the Senate will be considering over the coming weeks.

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