President Trump said during a statement in the Rose Garden on Monday that he is taking "immediate action” to mobilize “all available federal resources” to stop riots and looting across the country, threatening to deploy the military if states don’t send in the National Guard to protests.
"I will fight to protect you," Trump said in an evening protest, ahead of what's expected to be more protests in the city of Washington on Monday night over the death in Minnesota of George Floyd.
Immediately following the speech, in an extraordinary scene, the president and his entourage walked outside of the White House, across Lafayette Square, to St. Johns Episcopal Church, which caught on fire during the protesters the night before.
During the brief visit, the president stood in front of the boarded-up church and held up a Bible. He was accompanied by a variety of aides and officials, including Attorney General Bill Barr, daughter and White House adviser Ivanka Trump, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
On Sunday night rioters set fire to the parish house at St. John's. The parish house contains offices and parlors for gatherings. The basement, which was also torched, is used for childcare during church services, and had recently undergone renovations. However, the damage could have been "a lot worse," according to Rev. Rob Fisher.
"I am happy to share with you that I could see no other real damage besides that one room, and quite a bit of graffiti and debris around the exterior of the church," Fisher said on Facebook. "Protestors easily could have done a lot worse to our buildings, but they chose not to do that. (The damage I saw to other nearby buildings illustrated this point.)"
Prior to his visit, police used tear gas to disperse protesters in the park. In his speech, the president vowed to end violent protests.
"I have recommended every governor deploy the National Guard in sufficient numbers to dominate the streets," the president said during his speech. "We are ending riots and lawlessness, we will end it today."
Trump said he is dispatching "thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers and military personnel" to stop the rioting.
"I want organizers of this terror to be on notice that you will face severe criminal penalties," he said.
"We cannot allow the righteous cries of peaceful protesters to be drowned out by an angry mob," the president added. "The biggest victims of this rioting are peace-loving citizens in our poorest communities."
Trump pointed to a Federal Protective Service officer who was shot and killed amid protests in Oakland, California.
According to the FBI's San Francisco branch, the shooting occurred at the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building when a vehicle approached the building and opened fire at the security officers.
Earlier on Monday, the president unloaded on governors in a phone call, accusing them of being "weak" in their response to the riots and urging them to "dominate."
“Most of you are weak,” Trump said. “You have to arrest people.”
“You have to dominate, if you don't dominate you're wasting your time,” he said, according to a senior staffer in a governor’s office who was listening to the call. “They're going to run over you, you're going to look like a bunch of jerks. You have to dominate.”
“You’ve got to arrest people, you have to track people, you have to put them in jail for 10 years and you’ll never see this stuff again,” said Trump. “We’re doing it in Washington, D.C. We’re going to do something that people haven’t seen before.”