White House: Trump Doesn’t Want to Invoke Insurrection Act, but Wants to Help Cities

August 31, 2020 Updated: August 31, 2020

President Donald Trump prefers not to use the Insurrection Act in a bid to quell riots in cities such as Portland, but he wants to help cities get the situation under control, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Aug. 31.

“The president does not want to invoke the Insurrection Act, which has been used very sparingly,” McEnany told reporters in Washington.

“But what he does want is to help these cities where he can. And when you see Kenosha, when federal forces came in, there was peace, and Minneapolis. In both of those cases, it was at the invitation of the governor. So we want to work collaboratively with Democrat mayors and governors. They after all do hold the police power as embedded in the Constitution to control their streets, but we as a federal government are willing to supplement.”

Oregon officials continue to reject offers from the Trump administration for federal assistance to quell more than three months of unrest, including a fatal shooting over the weekend. By contrast, Wisconsin officials accepted federal help and quelled riots in three days, McEnany noted.

Speaking to supporters in New Hampshire on Aug. 28, Trump said the federal government is “not supposed to go in unless we call it an insurrection, but that’s a big statement.”

Epoch Times Photo
President Donald Trump speaks at an airport hanger at a rally a day after he formally accepted his party’s nomination at the Republican National Convention, in Londonderry, N.H., on Aug. 28, 2020. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

“It’s a big statement, no reason for it, but you know what we’re going to do? We’re going to have to look at it,” he said. “Because we’re not going to let that happen to people that go to the White House to celebrate our country.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was among those accosted by demonstrators in Washington earlier in the day after he departed Trump’s speech accepting the Republican presidential nomination. Paul said the angry mob threatened to kill him.

McEnany pointed to Washington as one of six cities that are run by Democrats and have been impacted by rioting in recent months.

“While this president is always willing to show up, it is incumbent on Democrats to step up: Invite Federal law enforcement in—we stand ready. Do not tolerate anarchy, violence, and destruction. Rioting is not right. Secure your streets,” she said.

The Insurrection Act, an 1807 law, enables a president to call up the militia of any state to enforce laws or suppress rebellion if he “considers that unlawful obstructions, combinations, or assemblages, or rebellion against the authority of the United States, make it impracticable to enforce the laws of the United States in any State by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings.”

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber