New Reports Reveal How Close Trump Came to Unleashing U.S. Military on George Floyd Protests



New reporting from CNN and the New York Times sheds light on Donald Trump’s efforts to drown the protests against the murder of George Floyd in blood. And these reports reveal that intense infighting at top levels of the Trump/Pence fascist regime and the U.S. military erupted around this.

Floyd was murdered on May 25, 2020. Powerful demonstrations quickly erupted in Minneapolis and spread nationally. Huge protests in Chicago, Portland, Seattle, and other major cities became international news. On May 29, protests were so close to the White House that the Secret Service hustled Trump and his family into a basement bunker, which was widely reported in the media.

Trump was furious, fuming that all this made the U.S. (and Trump himself) “look weak.” The Times reports—based on accounts of “two senior Trump administration officials”—that things came to a head during a June 1 meeting at the White House that included Attorney General Barr, Defense Secretary Esper, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley. (All three were Trump appointees.)

Trump wanted to invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807, a rarely used law that would allow him to call out federal troops against protesters1. Trump wanted to deploy 10,000 troops right away, and not just as a “show of force,” but to carry out bloody repression. A new book by Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender says Trump told top law enforcement and military officials on multiple occasions to “crack their skulls,” “beat the fuck” out of protesters, and “just shoot them.”

Things went so far on that day in June last year that Trump aides prepared the necessary documents invoking the Insurrection Act for Trump’s signature. Ultimately, Trump was apparently talked out of invoking the Act.2 Instead Trump had to “settle” for unleashing National Guard and Park Police to clear Lafayette Park (in front of the White House) of peaceful protesters, using tear gas and rubber bullets.

Trump also repeatedly encouraged maximum violence from both official pigs and fascist gangs against demonstrations around the country, resulting in many protesters being beaten, arrested and even murdered. And Trump continued to re-raise the prospect of invoking the Insurrection Act throughout the protests, as well as unleashing other (non-military) federal pigs to crush protests in Portland and Seattle.

For more on the divisions among the rulers, and the implications for the movement for an actual revolution, check out “A Declaration, A Call To Get Organized Now For A Real Revolution” from the revcoms, and the New Year’s Statement from Bob Avakian, “A New Year, The Urgent Need For A Radically New World—For The Emancipation Of All Humanity.”


1. The system we live under, the system of capitalism-imperialism destroys lives and crushes spirits. It is the source of endless horrors for the majority of people in this country and all around the world, and it is increasingly threatening the very existence of humanity. The military of this country is not carrying out an “honorable service”—and it is not some “bad ass” force that people should respect. It is doing the same thing around the world, on a massive scale, that the police are doing here: carrying out the cowardly killing and terrorizing of people in the service of the biggest oppressors in the world, the rulers of this country. And it is a major cause of the destruction of the environment.

It is a hard but basic truth: For the masses of people, and ultimately for humanity as a whole, there is no future, or no future worth living, under this system.

But there is a way to a world and a future that is worth living, and is worth fighting for right now: revolutiona real revolution, not playing around with a few changes that leave this system in place and in power, while benefitting only a small number. A revolution means a force of millions, drawn from many different parts of society and organized for an all-out fight to overthrow this system and replace it with a radically different and much better economic and political system, a socialist system, based on meeting the needs of the people and carrying forward the fight for a communist world where there will finally be an end, everywhere, to the exploitation, oppression, and destruction of the environment that is built into this system of capitalism-imperialism. Anything less than this revolution will completely fail to deal with the root of all the problems or lead to the actual solution.

2. Revolutions are not possible all the time, but are generally possible only in rare times and circumstances, especially in a powerful country like this. This is one of those rare times and circumstances. This system is in real trouble, caught up in crisis and conflicts for which it has no easy or lasting solutions. Throughout this country the workings of this system have given rise to deep divisions which cannot be resolved under this system. Society is being ripped apart. Those who rule are locked in a bitter fight among themselves, and they cannot hold things together in the way they have in the past. Although there are a lot of bad things connected with this and it could lead to something really terrible, it is also possible that we could wrench something really positive out of it—revolution, to put an end to this system and bring something much better into being.

We have seen the potential for revolution powerfully demonstrated just last summer when millions of people, of all races and genders, all over this country, and all around the world, rose up together against racist oppression and police murder. We have seen this potential in the mass outpourings of women, in countries all over the world, refusing to put up with being abused and degraded. This potential is also revealed in the deep distress being expressed, by scientists and millions of ordinary people, about the continually worsening climate crisis and the threat this poses to the future of humanity—a crisis this system cannot solve, but can only make worse. But, with all this, right now only a small number of us have recognized the need for this revolution and are acting to make it happen. So there is crucial work that must be done now to win people to understand the need for revolution and act to make it real—to turn the potential for revolution into a powerful movement and organized force for an actual revolution.

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1. The use of regular military on U.S. soil is generally barred by the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878. The original passage of the posse comitatus law was part of putting an end to the Reconstruction era after the Civil War and the betrayal of Black people. It decreed that federal troops could no longer be used in the former Confederate states to enforce new legal rights for Black people. (See Bob Avakian’s “The Oppression of Black People & the Revolutionary Struggle to End All Oppression” for more on this period.) More recently, posse comitatus has served to some degree as protection against the presidential use of federal troops inside the U.S. But the National Guard has been used regularly inside the U.S., and there have been cases of use of regular military troops domestically, as in the mobilization of Marine troops during the 1992 LA Rebellion.  [back]

2. It is not clear what the actual nature of the discussions at the June 1 White House meeting was, and what role Barr, Esper, and Milley played in the ultimate decision not to invoke the Insurrection Act.  [back]

National Guard troops attacking protesters near White House on June 3, 2020. Photo: AP



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