Susan Rice: Trump's response to George Floyd DC unrest proves it should become a state

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Susan Rice, a former White House national security adviser, wrote in a New York Times op-ed published Tuesday that Washington, D.C., was powerless to stop President Trump from ordering federal forces into the city in response to protests because it lacks statehood.

In her piece, Rice criticized Trump for deploying thousands of federal forces into the city against the wishes of Mayor Muriel Bowser as protests continued over the death of George Floyd.

"Largely because Washington lacks statehood, Mr. Trump had the authority to line city streets with military Humvees, to fly Black Hawk helicopters dangerously low to terrorize protesters, to fill the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with military personnel and to deploy thousands of federal forces, many unidentifiable with no discernible chain of command, like Russian 'Little Green Men,' to intimidate residents,” Rice wrote.

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“Without statehood, Washington was virtually powerless to prevent Mr. Trump from using the capital as a petri dish to intimidate protesters, divide Americans and goad activists into ugly street battles to galvanize elements of his base,” she added.

Rice, who grew up in the capital, cited the firing of tear gas, rubber bullets, pepper spray and use of batons on protesters and journalists. She warned that the city was a "testing ground" for Trump to find a pretext to invoke the Insurrection Act and send active-duty troops into any state over the objections of its governor.

National Guard troops were ordered to the city to protect the White House and several monuments amid historic unrest over Floyd's death.

To support her argument for D.C. statehood, Rice noted that the city's population exceeds 700,000, more than Wyoming and Vermont and comparable to Alaska and Delaware. Washington, D.C., residents also pay more per capita in federal income taxes than any state and more in total federal income tax than 22 states, she said.

"Yet, we lack any senators or voting representative in the House of Representatives. Congress controls the city’s budget and can override our laws and withhold funds," she said. "As our license plate proclaims, we suffer “taxation without representation,” which violates our democratic rights and relegates residents to second-class citizenship."

A line of DC National Guard members stand in Lafayette Park as demonstrators gather to protest the death of George Floyd near the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

A line of DC National Guard members stand in Lafayette Park as demonstrators gather to protest the death of George Floyd near the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Trump has dismissed the idea of statehood for the capital, saying it would boost the number of congressional seats for Democrats.

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In a news conference last week, Bowser said until D.C. is granted statehood, the city is subject to the whims of the federal government.

“Sometimes they’re benevolent, and sometimes they’re not," she said.