Former President Donald J. Trump has told the American people for nearly six months that he was kept from utilizing the U.S. military to clamp down on the destructive BLM riots of Summer 2020 by forces inside his own government. During an Iowa rally in March, however, he told audiences “The next time, I’m not waiting.”
According to The Associated Press, Trump assessed his own hometown New York City, and Chicago, as “crime dens.”
“You look at these great cities Los Angeles, San Francisco you look at what’s happening to our country… We cannot let it happen any longer. And one of the other things I’ll do.. Because you know you’re supposed to not be involved in that you just have to be asked by the governor or the mayor to come in…
The next time, I’m not waiting. One of the things I did was let them run it, and we’re going to show how bad a job they do,” he added.
“Well, we did that. We don’t have to wait any longer. We’ve got to get crime out of our cities.”
While Trump was non-specific as to how he would intervene, the AP, examining his remarks six months later speculated, about the possibility he might deploy the U.S. military. They wrote, “Trump has not spelled out precisely how he might use the military during a second term, although he and his advisers have suggested they would have wide latitude to call up units.”
The outlet went on to characterize the 2024 Republican frontrunner’s agenda as “aggressive,” citing his intent to launch mass deportations of illegal immigrants and his willingness to restore discretionary travel bans from nations destabilized by radical Islamist terrorism.
The AP cited Joseph Nunn, a national security expert with the Brennan Center for Justice, and referenced the Insurrection Act of 1795.
Nunn told them,
“The principal constraint on the president’s use of the Insurrection Act is basically political, that presidents don’t want to be the guy who sent tanks rolling down Main Street.”
He added, “There’s not much really in the law to stay the president’s hand.”
Nunn has called for legislation to restrict Trump from invoking the Insurrection Act, despite noting that servicemen and women are already legally required to disobey any unlawful order. He added, “The punishment for disobeying an order that turns out to be lawful is your career is over, and you may well be going to jail for a very long time. The stakes for them are extraordinarily high.”
Michael O’Hanlon, director of research in foreign policy at the Brookings Institute, holds a contrasting view, telling the AP, “There are a lot of institutional checks and balances in our country that are pretty well-developed legally, and it’ll make it hard for a president to just do something randomly out of the blue.” But he did add, “Trump is good at developing a semi-logical train of thought that might lead to a place where there’s enough mayhem, there’s enough violence and legal murkiness.”
The last time the Insurrection Act was invoked by a sitting President was in 1992 when then-President George H.W. Bush used the law to deploy the Federalized California National Guard to Los Angeles in order to contain the explosive Rodney King riots that followed the acquittal of several LAPD officers for the widely publicized beating of King.
In total, the AP observed, the law has been invoked forty times, and in most cases was used to enforce desegregation and respond to mass civil unrest as in the race riots of 1968 that followed the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.