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Trump Urges Governors to ‘Arrest’ and ‘Track People,’ Threatens to ‘Activate’ Bill Barr in Crackdown on Violence

CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA - MAY 30: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to SpaceX employees after viewing the successful launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the manned Crew Dragon spacecraft at the Kennedy Space Center on May 30, 2020 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Earlier in the day NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley lifted off an inaugural flight and will be the first people since the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011 to be launched into space from the United States.

In a phone call to state governors, President Donald Trump on Monday issued a series of harshly worded comments to governors nationwide, CBS News and others report.

Audio of the conversation is slowly leaking out online.

“You have to dominate, if you don’t dominate you’re wasting your time,” Trump reportedly said regarding nationwide civil unrest over the alleged murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody last week. Regarding the protests, many of which have turned violent and destructive, Trump said, “They’re going to run over you, you’re going to look like a bunch of jerks. You have to dominate.”

“Washington was under very good control, but we’re going to have it under much more control. We’re going to pull in thousands of people,” Trump also reportedly said in an apparent reference to Washington, D.C.

Trump also reportedly mentioned the Joint Chiefs of Staff and his attorney general. “We will activate Bill Barr and activate him very strongly,” Trump reportedly said. It’s not immediately clear what the activation of Attorney General Bill Barr would like or entail.

Trump then reportedly went further by telling governors: “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.”

CNN reported that Trump said on the call that he believed the violence was coming from the “radical left.”

“It’s a movement, if you don’t put it down it will get worse and worse,” Trump said, according to CNN. “The only time its successful is when you’re weak and most of you are weak.”

The Washington Post said Trump “told told the governors that ‘you have to use the military’ and ‘we have a wonderful military,’ said a person on the call.

Many among the usual chorus of critics lashed out; some of the responses questioned the legality of Trump’s reported comments.

[Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.]

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Aaron Keller holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University.  He is a former anchor and executive producer for the Law&Crime Network who now contributes to the Law&Crime website. DISCLAIMER:  This website is for general informational purposes only.  You should not rely on it for legal advice.  Reading this site or interacting with the author via this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.  This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney.  Speak to a competent lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice and representation relevant to your situation.