Attorney General William Barr said on Sunday that members of the Trump administration had agreed that active-duty military personnel should only be deployed as a “last resort” response to rioting.
Barr made the comments on CBSs Face the Nation when he was asked to address reports by the network that President Donald Trump on Monday morning had demanded that the military deploy 10,000 active-duty troops on American streets.
The attorney general called the report “completely false,” saying that following a night of violent rioting in Washington, which saw the destruction of federal property including the historic St. Johns Episcopal Church, Trump administration officials made the decision to “have at the ready and on hand in the vicinity some regular troops.”
“But everyone agreed that the use of regular troops was a last resort and that as long as matters can be controlled with other resources, they should be,” Barr said, adding that the officials felt they had adequate resources.
When pressed further about whether he was opposed of the idea of deploying troops, Barr replied that he, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley were on the same page that the military personnel would be deployed as a last resort and that they “didnt think we would need them.”
“I think everyone was on the same page,” Barr said.
Similarly, a White House official on Sunday also denied reports that active-duty troops were deployed to respond to the violent rioting.
“This is FALSE. I was in the mtg. @realDonaldTrump very clearly directed [the Department of Defense] to surge the National Guard—not active duty—after nights of vandalism & arson in DC. It worked, & weve seen powerful, peaceful demonstrations since,” Alyssa Farah, White House Director of Strategic Communications, said in a statement on Twitter.
Tens of thousands of people took the street across the nation in the past week to call for change after the death of Floyd, a black man who died while former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest. While many protests were peaceful, cities saw incidences of looting, violent rioting, and arson leading to significant property damage and more than a dozen deaths.
Barr has blamed the violence on extremists agitators who have “hijacked” the protests to pursue their own agendas. On June 4, he said that 51 arrests had been made so far for federal crimes over the rioting and that resources have been deployed to quell outbreaks of violence in several places.
The number of protesters reached record levels on Saturday as people flooded the streets of cities including San Francisco, Philadelphia, New York City, Washington, and Chicago, in which many of them appeared peaceful. Trump announced on Sunday that he had ordered the National Guard to begin withdrawing from Washington.
“I have just given an order for our National Guard to start the process of withdrawing from Washington, D.C., now that everything is under perfect control. They will be going home, but can quickly return, if needed. Far fewer protesters showed up last night than anticipated!” the president wrote in a Twitter post.