tv The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN June 1, 2020 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT
d.c. there is a standoff at lafayette park across from the white house. military personnel have already been brought in in trucks. these are u.s. military police. can you see them at lauf yfayet park. crowds are gathering there. we saw crowds gathering in atlanta, philadelphia and other major cities. we are staying on top of all of these developments hoping that all of these demonstrations remain peaceful. a lot of angry people there and don't deteriorate in the face of tension with the police and authorities and get ugly and violent as they have over these past several days in the united states. let's get reaction and analysis from the st. paul police chief, todd axtell. thank you for joining us.
as you know george floyd died under the knee of a minneapolis police officer. tell us what you are seeing in your city and what are you preparing for tonight. >> wolf, thank you very much. we are very concerned. our heart breaks, breaks for the floyd family. our community is hurting, our police officers are hurting. it is a strange, unusual, historic time of policing in america. this is a pivotal moment. all of the police leaders throughout the country and leaders throughout the country in general need to open our eyes, ears and most importantly, our hearts to what is going on throughout the country. >> what is your reaction to this report from the hennepin county medical examiner. it says the death was a homicide resulting from being restrained.
>> well, it doesn't surprise me. i haven't spoke to one police officer on the st. paul police department that can really believe what they saw on that video. it's disgusting and shouldn't be a surprise to anybody that mr. floyd lost his life at the hands of police. >> you are the police chief in st. paul. that's the twin city. what should occur to the other three officers who were on the scene simply watching and doing nothing to prevent george floyd from being choked. what do you think should happen and what do you think will happen to them? >> we have a strict policy in the st. paul police department that you have an absolute duty to intervene.
we all have a duty to intervene in those situations. it was absolutely preventable. i think the minneapolis police chief has done an incredible job. he spoke about this yesterday. he said the officers who didn't intervene are complicit. we know that as police officers in this country and understand that. we have a million police officers, a great many of them serve with dignity and pride and our hearts break for what is happening now. we will do tofrg facilitate first amendment activity throughout our city and keep our city safe. >> before i let you go, what are you bracing for tonight?
>> we have active protests throughout our city right now. we have wonderful relationships with 95 to 98% of our protest communities. people grieving, speaking their mind and speaking up, a call to reform throughout the country. we are hoping for the best, but we have to plan for the worst. i believe we are in for a good night in st. paul. that's my greatest hope. >> i am with you. todd axtell, the st. paul, minnesota police chief. good luck and thank you for joining us. >> i want to go to minneapolis. these are live pictures from across the street at the white house. you cissee krsee secret ser viv personnel, military police, and
we saw the military vehicles being driven across the grounds. as we are watching what is going on -- before we go there, these are u.s. military police. hold on for a moment. miguel, hold on for a moment because we see the police moving closer for some reason. alex, you are there, tell us what is going on. alex, i don't know if you can hear me. he is there in lafayette park. why are the police now getting closer and closer to the protesters. >> referee: can y >> reporter: can you hear me? >> yes. >> reporter: there has been a
significant ramping up of the law enforcement presence in lafayette park. what we have seen in the last few moments is the d.c. national guard moving in. they have in the last few days been supporting the park police which on this park is federal land so these are federal authorities to secure it right in front of the white house. secret service in blue, d.c. national guard in camouflage and you have that in the front row and more d.c. national guard behind them. i do not know why they have felt a need to bring more forces in. it is not as if the protesters here have gotten any more violent. there hasn't been anything thrown in the hours i have been here. it has been an entirely peaceful protest. the only thing i can think of is that in under an hour's time there will be a curfew. the mayor of d.c. announced there will be two days of 7:00
p.m. curfew in just 55 minutes. that is in stark contrast to the curfew last night at 11:00 p.m. what we saw last night was an uptick in violence in the later hours. even if protests like this can be peaceful, they have given way to much more violent protests. that, in part, according to the mayor of d.c. is donald trump's fault. she said the words we have heard from him have all but incited the violence we have seen. we have heard from the president talking about possibly unleashing vicious dogs and ominous weapons if protesters were to breach the fence by the white house. we have seen real anger by the mayor of d.c. directed at the president who said that his comments were gross and are not doing any favors. but at the same time, wolf, as
we have been discussing, there is a huge amount of law enforcement presence in this city. i have counted at least ten agencies or body that is have come together to work with the city and the federal government to keep the peace here. so, again, there is a curfew going into effect in under an hour's time. when you look at this crowd, hear this crowd, there is little indication that they plan to leave by 7:00. so that remains very much to be seen. whether they will disperse and what kind of evening we have in the nation's capital. >> i want to remind our viewers where you are, but on the other side is a truly historic church, hay-adams hotel, 16th street for our viewers who have been to washington, d.c. there was violence that erupted there last night.
you were there. what happened? >> reporter: it can be difficult to show you, but i can explain how it went down. that lovely church on the opposite corner that is st. john's church, famous because it is so close to the white house, because so many presidents have gone there, including president obama, trump and presidents before them. a huge fire was set as well as a fire set in a basement room in that church. and a block north in the building of the afl-cio, there was a large fire set by arsonists in the lobby. as a result a number of these buildings including the afl-cio, the st. john's church, the
hay-adams hotel. >> hold on. we see more police and military going into the area. clearly there is a stanoff between the protesters and the military police. we have just been told that the president will make a statement in the rose garden at 6:15. that's scheduled for five minutes from now. you are looking at pictures. the teleprompters are set up. he will be reading a statement. we will see if he ad-libs. we will have live coverage. president trump getting ready to make a statement, walk out of the oval office, go down the carpet and go to the podium and read a statement. you see the teleprompters set
up. once again there is the attorney general bill bar barr. i don't know if he is leaving or sticking around. protesters have gathered as well. that was bill barr clearly right there. maybe he just wants to see what is going on. you see him with his security and aids standing right there behind the police lines of lafayette park. i wonder if he is going to walk back to the white house and be there when the president makes his statement in a few moments. right now he's very close to where the action is right across the street on pennsylvania
avenue. a very sensitive moment unfolding right now. i have no idea why bill barr decided to go there. he may have just wanted to see the demonstrators, see the police on the scene, get a firsthand account. looks like he's walking back away from the police lines at lafayette park and towards the white house. once again we are awaiting the president of the united states. don lemon, all of us are anxious to hear what the president of the united states has to say in the face of this angry situation that has unfolded, not only in washington, new york, philadelphia, atlanta, chicago or los angeles, but in cities all over this country. >> reporter: you are right. i think anything short of we hear you, wolf, i want to help, i am on your side, will fall flat. if he comes with a message of
bringing military and law and order and that sort of thing, i don't think it will help. yes, there should be law and order in this country. yes, people should follow the rules. no, people should not be burning down businesses, should not be destruction of property, but it is all in the message and how you convey it. people are looking for leadership. they are looking for empathy, looking for someone who bring the country together, not divisiveness. they are looking for someone not to be racist, not to be bigoted, not to say there are not fine people on both sides. that is not what america needs. that is not what these groups of people out there want at this particular time. they want their voices to be heard. they have tried to protest peacefully. they have tried to get their
points across in in a number of protests that led up to this including mike brown, freddy gray, trevaughn gray, including kneeling at a football game only for the time it takes to perform a national anthem. that has not been heard. it has fallen on deaf ears. anything beyond i hear you, want to work with you, want to listen to you, understand the mistakes of the past, we are going to correct that, that is going to fall on deaf ears. >> we will see what the president has to say. we are told momentarily he will walk to the rose garden. don, stand by. van jones is with us as well.
you have unique perspective on what he might say because you work with him and his aids and jared kushner on reform and you succeeded at bipartisan effort. what would you like to hear? >> i think there is a way out of this. one, you have done the right thing in having the department of justice and fbi leading forward on the ground. you need arrest. clearly federal laws were broken. fbi should be made immediately. if he saying anything like that, we need that. and we need federal legislation on police reform. we have done it on prison reform. if he says he wants to bring democrats and republicans together for that, that would be welcome. lastly, these communities between the shut down of the
economy which i supported, you have businesses flat destroyed. if he says anything about lending a helping hand. it's one thing to attack the people who attacked these businesses, and another thing to help the businesses. there are often contradictory impulses inside the building and the heart of that man. i hope he comes forward with a constructive pathway out, justice, economic help, a way out. >> lafayette park, there is the attorney general of the united states watching what is going on. bill barr, he is not wearing a
tie. he has his hands in his pocket and just looking to see what's going on. what is your appreciation of why he came to basically undertake an eyewitness account of the demonstrators and the police? >> you know, it's bizarre. it's not necessarily a bad thing -- frankly at the highest level of government to see the level of pain, to see the level of outrage, see how disgusted people are. don lemon hit it on the head over and over again. we are tired. enough is enough. too many funerals. we are tired of it and tired of the lip service and kumbaya. we want this to stop. change the rules and law so the
police stop doing this. if you keep getting away with it, you will keep doing it. he is the top cop. maybe he went out there to see how the police were handling it. but maybe just the pure raw energy off the streets of america hitting him in the chest might make a bigger difference and show him some urgency. this could get out of hand. these disturbances right now are minor compared to 1992 with rodney king when you had american cities on fire, 1968, american cities on fire. we are on a pathway not to riot, but civil unrest where you have five, six, seven cities on fire. i hope the top cop and attorney general are out there and does his own math. if we get one more videotape of some brutal horrific murder or beating, this country could go
over the edge. i am glad he's out there. it is a little strange, but if he takes away from it that the people are tired, it's a good thing he is out there. >> bill barr standing there surrounded by some of his aides and security personnel. others who have gathered in the midst of this faceoff who are only a few feet away. they are very peaceful. last night it deteriorated quickly. there were fires. let's hope it doesn't happen. don, you can see behind the police the attorney general. he is in charge so sort of like a general overseeing his troops who have gathered on the scene. don, that's the only analysis i can think. he wants to see his troops in
action. go ahead, don. >> reporter: i wanted to say this looks to me more -- i think my colleague is being very generous, van jones, and i will allow that, but i think bill barr has a certain degree of anonymity that donald trump doesn't have. he is hiding in plain sight. i think this is probably a photo-op and he knows the media will have cameras trained on him. i think this is a law and order play for people who don't happen to be in washington at this point. it looks very militaristic. bill barr was not out there on friday when there were protesters who were going back and forth with the secret
service. bill barr wasn't out there on saturday when they were going back and forth with police. not on sunday. on monday now that the national guard is there and members of the military and he is well protected and the president is coming out and more secret service there and the washington, d.c. police, he shows up. i think we have to be, as members of the media and as americans, we need to be more savvy about how this white house operates when it comes to dealing with the media. they are very savvy at putting on a reality show for obvious reasons. putting on a show. looking a certain way. they are making at this point -- let's see what he has to say. hopefully he says something that will unite the country instead of divide.
but at this point it looks as if they are making a law and order play for the trump voter and his constituency. this probably has more to do with november than winning the hearts and minds of americans. >> we just got a tweet from the president. he said i will be delivering brief remarks from the rose garden at 6:30 p.m. to update on the federal response, about eight minutes or so from now. we see bill barr. looks like he is getting ready to leave, lafayette apart. >> everybody google general patton before that happens. >> i guess he has seen enough of the military police. they are very close to the protesters on the scene. jim acosta, are you there in the rose garden?
>> reporter: i am. we gathered for this statement from the president. he tweeted this will be happening at 6:30. we expect these remarks to be brief. we will see if he takes questions. we have seen stunning sights at the white house. we have seen eight military vehicles rumble through carrying troops to pennsylvania avenue to help bolster some of the forces in place for tonight's potential unrest. one of the things the president may talk about because the press secretary talked about this earlier today, said the president is considering the use of the 1807 insurrection act which allows the u.s. government to deploy u.s. military troops to help quell a disturbance. this is a very old law.
there will be a lot of legal experts who will argue whether or not this is appropriate, but the sight of military forces rolling through a complex like this is highly irregular and will cause concern for people around the country and the world as the united states is looked upon as a beacon of democracy. it is rare to see military vehicles rolling through the white house complex. we sought attorney general bill barr inspecting the situation going on in lafayette park. there have been discussions about deploying multiple agencies sending their protective units to lafayette park to make sure this place does not get out of control like last night. fires were set at multiple places around the white house,
at st. john's episcopal church, the afl-cio had their lobby torched briefly. the president is stepping into this situation to potentially, we think, deliver a message of law and order. he hasn't been in much of a mood of issuing calm with the nation's governors saying they are weak and that they need to dominate the streets and asking why they are not using national guard troops. at one point earlier it was tweeted from arkansas governor tom cotton about the airborne division of the u.s. army to quell the unrest around the country. a ramped up rhetoric we have never seen in my lifetime, haven't seen in generations in
this country. and i suppose the question is whether or not any of this works for the president. my colleagues and i in the cnn white house team have been debating as to whether or not he should talk about any of this. there is the potential he could make matters work. last week he tweeted about looters being shot. that helped inflame the situation. there is no way around that. the potential is there once again for the president to walk out to the rose garden after the military folks rolle through -- rolled through. >> there was a conference call earlier with the governors today that apparently at times got pretty ugly. the president was delivering stark warnings to them to get tough or you will lose.
some were responding including governor pritzker saying you shouldn't say that. >> that's right, he was telling the president your rhetoric is not helping the situation and the president should be displaying the style of leadership that brings calm to the country. the president said i don't like your rhetoric either, the way you dealt with the coronavirus. some have said the posture he is putting on may be helpful to him politically. the critics will say there is a contrast here. the president is talking tough, tweeting tough, saying all of these things on this conference call to these governors and yet on friday night he was in the bunker in the emergency operations of the white house taking cover when this was going
on in the streets of washington, not a rambo style move. why is the president tweeting one thing and saying one thing and behaving in a different fashion when the chips are down. >> stand by because i know momentarily the president is scheduled to walk out of the oval office and walk over to the rose garden and make a brief statement. i don't know if he will answer questions. now we see the military police getting closer and closer to the demonstrators. alex is there on the scene for us. demonstrators, large numbers and all of a sudden they are eyeball to eyeball with u.s. military police. they have their tschida, batons and getting closer and closer. alex, you are close to that scene now, aren't you? >> reporter: wolf, we are right in front of them. it is unclear why they have
decided they felt the need to come up to the barrier. this is the closest they have been to the protesters in the last few hours. it is most likely because the president is about to speak and once this crowd finds out that the president is going to speak -- and i can tell you most of them have not been aware -- it will likely set off another ripple of anger throughout the crowd. you are looking at d.c. national guard as well as secret service with riot gear who have marched up to where these protesters are on the edge of lafayette park. the protesters are putting their hands up saying hands up, don't shoot. there is a long list of law enforcement agencies who have come here to quell these protests in the streets of washington, d.c. we have just learned that an additional 600 to 800 national
guard members from five other states have been requested for washington, d.c. so that, wolf, just to put that in context, that's over ten different law enforcement bodies that are now active in d.c. to keep control of these protests to make sure that they don't get out of hand as we have seen the last few nights. earlier today we learned that some 200 to 250 active duty soldiers would be coming up from north carolina to join the law enforcement efforts in washington. as we have been saying, these protests until now have been entirely calm. even as this escalation is happening, as the police come up to confront the protesters, we have not seen the protesters respond in any sort of way by throwing projectiles or
rocks like last night. many have their hands up in the air saying don't shoot. wolf, there is also a fear of escalation, not just because these forces have come up to confront them, but because we have seen a number of them put their gas masks on which means they may be ready to fire tear gas. we have our gas masks as well. the temperature is rising out here in lafayette park. just a reminder that we are about half an hour away before d.c. has ordered a curfew and anyone would be arrested if they are still in the streets in half an hour's time. >> let's look back. you see police on horseback as well. this is america 2020. we are still in the midst of a
coronavirus pandemic that has already taken the lives of more than 100,000 americans and seen 40 million americans lose their jobs over the past ten weeks alone. and now this. you see more military personnel and secret service personnel moving closer and closer towards the protesters in lafayette park. 600 to 800 national guard members from five states have been requested to supplement what is going on. what a defense official calls civil unrest. they have been working to provide sufficient forces for protecting the city and maintaining peace this evening. the stated goal is to help the city with their needs. as we have reported before, the
entire d.c. national guard, about 1200 military personnel, the entire d.c. national guard has been activated already. additional personnel from delaware, new jersey, ohio, and utah. the protesters are backing up. this is in washington, d.c. as the military personnel get closer and closer. this is potentially going to get very ugly even as the president of the united states gets ready to deliver what he describes as a brief statement. these are stunning images we are seeing in the united states of america. protesters have their hands up. all of a sudden you see the military, the secret service personnel and others moving closer and closer to them.
clearly they are anxious to disperse these demonstrators. these demonstrators don't want to leave. they have been very peaceful, screaming and shouting, yes, but very peaceful. now you see military personnel getting closer and closer. this is a standoff that could explode even as he would await the president of the united states walking to the rose garden and making a statement. don lemon, what do you think? >> there was a reason the attorney general came out. as he walked back in, there is an escalation in what police are doing. they have appeared to become more aggressive with the protesters. let's see how this plays out. the president coming out. all of this a made for tv moment as the president comes out and probably going to deliver a law and order type speech.
1992 earlier and those were horrific riots in the united states. i was in new york city working in the newsroom in new york city. yes, there were riots and protests around the country, but they did not last for seven days. this has lasted for seven days in major cities, most every major city around the country. and it has no signs of slowing down. 1992 with rodney king was mostly confined to los angeles. a lot of people died. 63 people died, about 2300 people were injured, 12,000 arrested, a billion in property damage, mostly confined to los angeles. this has been every major city in the country and building. >> don, hold on. tear gas is being fired. you can see what is going on. the police are trying to disperse this crowd at lafayette
park. they don't want the protesters to be there even though they were peaceful. they were not endangering anyone. tear gas. they will try to run away and regroup elsewhere. this is a dangerous situation and unfolding as we await the president of the united states to make a statement from the rose garden on all of this that has unfolded over the past week for the killing of george floyd in minneapolis, minnesota. the situation is deteriorating quickly. this is across the street from the white house off of pennsylvania avenue. the north lawn of the white house is behind lafayette park where these protesters had gathered peacefully. all of a sudden the police were ordered in, firing tear gas, trying to disperse this crowd and it's turning nasty.
jim acosta, you are there in the rose garden. can you hear the flash bangs going on? >> reporter: you sure can. as the president is about to address the nation, we can hear the explosions from lafayette park. we are seeing the potential for the president to be addressing the nation as the explosions are going off at the same time. that is just an absolutely unbelievable prospect but that's what we are facing at this moment. we can hear the flash bangs coming in breaking out right now. we expect the president to deliver a law and order focused address. the teleprompters are set up. that potentially means he won't be taking questions, but as you know, expect the unexpected with the president.
he may deliver these reparks and decide to take questions. he will be explaining why we saw the military vehicles transporting troops to the park to try to help quell this disturbance. the question is going to be asked and we will try to ask the question as he walks out of here if he doesn't take questions, where is the message of calm, trying to calm things down around this country. you can send in the calvary, can send in military forces, but that doesn't make the protesters go away unless you want to crack some skulls out there. those are images that this white house has to realize comes with a massive political risk. >> people are suffering from the tear gas. jim acosta, he says he's going to come into the rose garden and
deliver a statement. all of a sudden the police send out tear gas. the rose garden, is that appropriate as this violence has developed? the police decided to move forward and disperse the crowd with tear gas. >> we heard three more explosions. when the tear gas is fired, you can smell it down the block. you don't have to just be in the same vicinity. i think it begs the question why is the president delivering this address in the rose garden where we will hear this explosion and the potential for tear gas fumes blowing over here in the breeze. it makes more sense it seems to me for the president to be delivering the address inside
the white house in the east room or oval office or white house briefing room. to do it in the rose garden i think there is an element of risk to it. i would love to say that is not the case. >> a lot of the protesters have left lafayette park, in front of st. john's church. there are a lot of historic buildings right there, the hay-adams hotel, the afl-cio. you can see police dispersed tear gas right moments before the president is to deliver a brief statement on the national unrest. that big building afl-cio. this is an ugly, ugly situation, not because the protesters were
doing anything other than screaming a little bit and standing there and the police coming in there trying to disperse them. alex, you are on the scene, tell us what you are seeing and hearing. we see you have the gas mask on. >> the police have made the decision they want these protesters out. this is right before the curfew is to go into effect and right before the president makes these remarks, remarks americans have waited for him to make about these protests. all along the park you have d.c. national guard alodng with park police. protesters with their hands up saying "don't shoot." they have been firing tear gas. that's why i have this gas mask. if you look at the eyes of these
protesters they are red and full of tears. we see police moving forward at different moments to push people away from the park. that is presumably their next move. right behind them is another row of mounted park police. these protesters are resisting and here come the police. >> let's listen and watch for a second. hold on for a second, alex. >> reporter: those are rubber bullets, wolf.
>> you can see the mounted police are moving in. tear gas, rubber bullets, they are trying to disperse the crowd that gathered peacefully and all of a sudden the police start moving in to try to disperse the crowd and it's getting very ugly. for viewers just tuning in, this is happening as we are awaiting the president of the united states. he is supposedly going to be delivering a statement in the rose garden that has clearly endeveloped the rose garden. don lemon, your thoughts?
this is not pleasant to observe this in washington, d.c., the nation's capital. >> i said earlier this was a made for tv moment. this was a peaceful protest -- >> hold on, don. here is the president. >> my fellow americans, my first and highest duty as president is to defend our great country and the american people. i swore an oath to uphold the laws of our nation and that is exactly what i will do. all americans were rightly sickened and revolted by the brutal death of george floyd. my administration is fully committed that for judge and his family, justice will be served. he will not have died in vain. but we cannot allow the righteous cries of peaceful
protesters to be drowned out by an angry mob. the biggest victims of rigoting is peaceful citizens. i will fight to protect you. i am the president of law and order and an ally of all peaceful protesters, but in recent days our nation has been gripped by professional anarchists, looters, criminals antifa and others. states have failed to take care of their citizens, like the young man in dallas who was left dying on the street or the woman in upstreet new york viciously attacked by thugs.
small business owners have seen their dreams destroyed. new york's finest have been hit in the face with bricks. brave nurses who have battled the virus are afraid to leave their homes. a police precinct has been overrun here in the nation's capital the lincoln memorial and world war ii memorial van vandalized, one of our most historic churches in blazed. an african-american hero was shot and killed. these are not acts of a peaceful process, but acts of terror, the destruction of peaceful life and the spilling of blood is against
humanity and goth. -- god. we need security, not anarchy, healing not hatred, justice, not chaos. this is our mission and we will su succeed 100%. we will succeed. our country always wins. that is why i am taking immediate presidential action to stop the violence and restore the safety in america. i am moes immobilizing all federal and local resources to protect the rights of law abiding americans including your second amendment rights. therefore, the following measures are going into effect immediately. first, we are ending the riots and lawlessness that has spread
throughout our country. we will end it now. today i have strongly recommended to every governor to deploy the national guard in sufficient numbers that we dominate the streets. mayors and governors must establish an overwhelming presence until the violence is quelled. if a city or state refuses to take the actions necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then i will deploy the united states military and quickly solve the problem for them. i am also taking swift and decisive action to protect our great capitol, washington, d.c. what happened in the city last night was a total disgrace. as we speak i am dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military
personnel and law enforcement officers to stop the rioting, looting, vandalism, assaults and wanton destruction of property. we are putting everybody on warning. our 7:00 curfew will be strictly enforced. those who threaten innocent life and property will be detained and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. i want the organizers of this terror to be on notice that you will face severe criminal penalties and lengthy sentences in jail, this includes antifa and others who are leading instigators of this violence. one law and order and that is what it is, one law, one beautiful law, and once that is restored and fully restored, we
will help you, help your business, and we will help your family. america is founded upon the rule of law. it is the foundation of our prosperity, but where there is no law, there is no opportunity. where there is no justice there is no liberty. where there is no safety there is no future. we must never give in to anger or hatred. if malice or violence reigns then none of us is free. i take these actions today with firm resolve and with a true and passionate love for our country. by far our greatest days lie ahead. thank you very much, and now i'm going to pay my respects to a very, very special place. thank you very much.
>> there was the president of it united states making a 6 or 7 minute statement declaring he is the president of law and order and he will stop what's going on right now. as he was speaking right across the street from the white house there was a peaceful demonstration in lafayette park by protesters who were simply shouting, making statements, but they were not threatening anyone and all of a sudden military personnel, military police, uniformed secret service police, mounted police went in to disperse and they were firing tear gas in the process, rubber bullets we're told as well. the president saying he's going to use an old law to deploy military personnel to deal with all of this. he says these are professional anarchists and once again he blamed a far left group, antifa, for this. they will lose or he will win, he said. this is our mission, we will
succeed, he said, 100%. mobilizing all resources, he said, citing an old law, civilian and military, the inseration act of 1807, he was mobilizing that to deal with the riots he said and lawlessness. this situation is about to get cleary a whole not worse. not only here at the white house in washington, d.c. but bracing for angry reaction at other major cities around the united states as well. remember in only about 8 minutes there's supposed to be a curfew that's taking place here in the nation's capitol. everyone's supposed to be off the streets. don lemon, the president did not mince his words at all. >> he did not, wolf. and just as the president was coming out i was trying to make the point to you this is a major tv moment. this is the reason as i said earlier that the attorney
general came out with sir david troops because they wanted to create this moment for the cameras. so when the president came out and gave his law and order speech which i said as well again for the cameras that there would be chaos on the streets of america. this was a made for television moment. and what i wanted to say after that, which i believe to be true and i know to be true now is that earlier on that phone call that we heard that jim acosta played for us earlier when the president said you are being weak, you have to show strength, that the minneapolis police department was on fire, i've never seen anything like this before. i said he sounded weak and scared. those were the orders from the commander in chief for this very moment that just happened in front of our eyes. why were we pretending otherwise? open your eyes, america. open your eyes. we are teetering on a dictatorship. this is chaos.
has the president -- i'm listening -- is the president declaring war on americans? what is happening here? he's saying he wants to protect peaceful protesters at the same time sending law enforcement and military into the streets to push peaceful protesters back, to be aggressive with peaceful protesters. he is doing the exact opposite of what he said in that speech. i think the president is playing a very, very dangerous game here. there are a lot of americans who are out on these streets who are upset, who are frustrated, who are angry. again, i'm not condoning violence at all, and i hope that they remain peaceful, but i hope that they stand up and fight for their rights to peacefully protest in this country. but he's playing a very dangerous game, because this will backfire. people are upset and they're angry.
these people as i've been saying as well, they feel like they are occupied in their own communities by police departments. many of them militarized police departments. now the entire country according to his orders we are living under a militarized country or we will be soon and it will play out in front of our very eyes on national television. >> and don, the president said he is now going to be deploying what he described as thousands and thousands of u.s. military troops to american cities. he says he has the right to do so under the insurrection act of 1807, and that's why he's doing this. jim acosta, you were there. you were listening to the president. he made a 6 or 7 minute statement, and then he walked away, didn't answer reporters questions. clearly insisting he's going to win, he's the law and order president, he said. and he called -- what he called the terrorists, and he called them the terrorists, they will
lose. and he complained so many of these cities and states were engaging in a total disgrace by not taking decisive military action. >> that's right, wolf. and i just want to catch you up to speed on something that appears to be happening right now, and that is it seems they're making preparations over here at the white house for the president to make some kind of movement off the grounds of the white house. you heard the president say at the very end of his remarks he was going to go pay his respects. you can see behind me the pool is gathering as we speak. that's the white house pool that trail the president through his movements. we're not in the pool today but our colleagues at other networks, nbc and other print reporters they're gathering up right now for what appears to be a very brief movement that the president is going to be taking here in just a few moments. it is possible based on the logistics where we are and how he'll be able to make a brief trip here in just a few moments
that he may be going to saint johns episcopal church. if you look at this camera that is overlooking st. johns episcopal church across from lafayette -- >> we're looking at live pictures of st. johns church right across from lafayette park, right over there on 16th street, and as you know, jim, every american president -- i think almost every american president has gone to sunday services there. there was a fire that was unloaded in the basement of that church yesterday, a small fire. but right now you can -- if the president is in fact planning on heading there that would -- we would now understand why the military police and the secret service decided to use tear gas and other weapons to go in and disperse that peaceful crowd that had gathered there. i want to read what the insurrection act of 1807 says, because this is what the president says he has the right
to deploy thousands of thousands of military troops here domestically in the united states. i'll read the insurrection act of 1807 is the united states federal law that governs the ability of the president of the united states to deploy military troops within the united states to suppress civil disorder, insurrection, and rebellion. so that's the law the president is citing. that's why you're seeing these military police on the streets right near the white house, right over at lafayette park having to disperse this crowd and maybe the president is planning on heading over there. >> that's what it sounds like, wolf. but you just read the 1807 insurrection act which authorizes the use of military forces to quell a disturbance. however, this appears to have been a use of military force in these other protective services to clear out the area for a photo opportunity. if the president is going to st. johns episcopal church for a photo opportunity. >> and we're told he is. we're now hearing, jim, that's
where the president is going and that's why the police decided to clear out this area. the president wants to have a photo-op over at the church. >> reporter: that's an extraordinary use of man power for a photo opportunity, wolf. because keep in mind as we have all been seeing over the last couple of days these protests that are gathered at thop of lafayette park which is just across the street from the st. johns episcopal church, that is a massive deploy 789 of forces to clear out what was a very large crowd demonstrating against what we've been seeing over the last couple of days and the death, of course, of george floyd. but, wolf, you know, using the 1807 insurrection act for this purpose, that's one thing for calming things down, getting things under control. that's controversial enough. but to use this law and invoking that law to clear out the park so the president can go to the church, that is just extraordinary, wolf. >> we were wondering why the attorney general of the united states had walked over behind
the troops, the police as they were getting ready to disperse the crowd, peaceful protesters in lafayette park. now we know the president is going to have a photo-op over at this st. johns church right across the street from the white house. our special live coverage continues here on cnn with erin burnett out front. and good evening. i'm erin burnett. this is the breaking news coverage continuing as you see. violence rocking washington, you're looking at st. johns episcopal church right now. this is live picture. the president is anticipated as part of a photo-op he wants to do walking over there in a couple of moments. moments ago police fired tear gas on protesters, rubber bullets. you could hear that. you could hear that actually in the rose garden where the president then went and gave his brief comments. military police are now on the scene surrounding parts of the white house. and this unrest is taking place