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President Trump started Thursday, June 25, with First Lady Melania Trump at the Korean War Memorial. He then flew to Wisconsin, where he first participated in a 43-minute Fox News town hall out of an airport hanger. This was led by Sean Hannity, who was relatively subdued, mostly keeping himself out of the way. I created a partial transcript for your quick perusal. From the town hall, President Trump shifted gears and went to a shipyard, where he enjoyed praising American skilled labor. On the same day, he had his Attorney General on both leftist and conservative shows, addressing the issue of street violence and lawlessness. Taken as a whole, there are signs President Trump and his team are sorting out how to effectively respond to this June’s events. Can he get far enough ahead in the decision loop?
Listen to President Trump’s very reasonable position on protest, agitators, anarchists, and monuments. It is squarely in the heart of American public sensibility. Then hear him praise ship workers and point to a great new naval shipbuilding future in the heart of swing state country. As a side note, Vice President Pence was ranging over other battleground territory this week, praising auto workers in Ohio and dropping in on a police shift brief to praise them and their department. On the same day, Attorney General Barr seems to be moving in the correct direction on stopping left-wing domestic terrorism, as does the Freedom Caucus, but where are Senate Majority Leader McConnell and House Minority Leader McCarthy?
The following is my partial transcription of the Fox townhall, with emphasis added:
POTUS: We have arrested a lot of people for what they have done. They have created bedlam. They’ve destroyed very important things, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln. They’d like to get Jesus. These have nothing to do with any particular event, other than they are troublemakers, agitators, and they are anarchists. The big thing they want is to destabilize our country, and we don’t let them.
So I said to my people, “if you’ve arrested so many, how come we don’t hear about it?” They said “we don’t talk about it, sir, we just do it.” But I said I think the public should know, and you know we have a statues act, a monument act, which puts you in jail for ten years if you do what they have done. We have the tapes because it is all on television. Andrew Jackson was a very good president, a great general. You can’t let that happen.
But they’re after Abraham Lincoln. And tonight, I guess they are looking at Abraham Lincoln. And that was the Emancipation Proclamation. And you’re signing the Emancipation Proclamation, and you have somebody that I think wasn’t free, and he’s getting up. It is the position of he’s getting up, he’s being freed by Abraham Lincoln. And, I can see controversy, but I can also see beauty in it. And it was paid for by slaves, it was paid for because they were so grateful to the president, It was paid for that reason. And they want to take it down.
And you know, we can take things down too. I can understand certain things being taken down, but they ought to got through a process, legally. And then we take them down and in some cases put them in a museum or wherever they may go. But these are really rioters and there are a lot of bad people involved. They talk about protesters and there are protestors, but there are beyond protestors and we’re not going to allow it. We have a lot of people under arrest.
[. . .]
Hannity: You see NYC 350% increase. In Chicago last weekend, 102 of our fellow citizens were shot, 12 were children, 14 died. The carnage existed all throughout these years that Joe Biden was VP. I don’t know any reforms after Ferguson, Baltimore.
POTUS: Corrupt Joe. We caught them spying on my campaign. If that were the other way around, you’d have people in jail for 50 years. What they’ve done to General Flynn, is disgraceful.
Hannity: I want to stay on this issue though. If we want to be a more perfect union, pursue happiness, we first have to have law and order.
Hannity: These big cities, we’ve watched violence for how long? [. . .] I don’t know how people can pursue their dreams and happiness if they don’t have fundamental security.
POTUS: You can’t. You can’t. Look Chicago’s an example, it’s like worse than Afghanistan. [. . .] What we’ve done [in Latin America and on the border] is incredible, but you look at Honduras, Guatamala, we have cities that are worse, far worse. Take a look at Detroit, Oakland, Baltimore. Everybody gets upset when I say it. It is not a racist statement. Black people come up and thank me for saying it. They want help. These cities are like living in hell. [. . .]
If I’ve ever seen a case, stop and frisk. It is controversial, but take the guns away. Rudy Guiliani started stop and frisk. Bloomberg blew it because he went crazy and took away rights.
Hannity: We are Americans, we can do anything. We could stop the violence.
POTUS: We could stop it quickly, and at some point in the not too distant future I’m gonna do it. And if they don’t do something with Seattle, we’re gonna do that. We’re gonna go in there, because they’re taking over American cities. By the way, in all cases, it’s Democrats. They are Democrat run. And Joe Biden would have that be the whole country.
It’s so crazy what’s happening. This is a guy that doesn’t talk. Whenever he does talk, he can’t put two sentences together. I don’t want to be nice or unnice. The man can’t speak, and he’s going to be president because some people don’t love me maybe, and all I’m doing is doing my job. Before the China plague came in, we had the best job numbers we ever had, the best economy, the best stock market we ever had. African American, Asian American, Hispanic American, women, young people. The best we ever had.
I was absolutely doing a number on China. China was going to take over our country. What they did to Obama and Biden, they ripped off this country. And nobody said anything. We had no deal. [. . .]
Audience question on taking back streets:
POTUS: It’s a very sick thing going on. Look, I don’t think Biden is radical left. It doesn’t matter, they’ll take him over. He can’t perform. He’s shot. He’s shot. Whether you like it or not, he’s shot. The radical left is going to take him over. Look what happened. Elliot Engel was a pretty mainline guy. He lost by like 37 points or so. He just got killed in the election yesterday. He was supposed to be a shoo-in. He got hit by a strong far left candidate. And these are real lefties. These are people that, that…
Look at Venezuela. Venezuela was a very rich country, a great country, a beacon, 20 years ago, 15 years ago. Richest country in Latin America. They don’t have food, they don’t have water, death all over. People have nothing. It is the same exact mindset and philosophy that we have today on attack. And it won’t happen while I’m here. But a guy like Biden, he’s going to have no power to do anything about it. And they’re dragging him. Bernie Sanders said my sole focus now is to take Biden way left. They’re gonna do it, because there is nobody in the center left anymore. He was left anyway, but there is nobody in the center or center left.
That being said, the Republicans have to get tougher. And I’m telling them all the time, because they’re sitting back. They want to be politically correct. They think oh, it’s terrible to say something bad. No, no, no. I told them. You’ll see if anyone attacks, I stopped it the other night, I stopped it a number of times. But you’ll see what’s happening, and we told them, every night we’re going to get tougher and tougher.
And at some point, there’s going to be retribution because there has to be. These people are vandals, but they’re agitators, but they’re really, they’re terrorists in a sense. So, I think you’ll be extremely impressed, but you have to put pressure also —I love the Republicans . . . — but I said you’re gonna have to get tougher. You can’t be politically correct anymore because we’re really fighting something that is really dangerous.
Attorney General Barr got the message loud and clear about making the case publicly as people appear to be losing confidence in government protecting them. He appeared both on NPR and on the top-rated Ted Cruz podcast: “Verdict with Ted Cruz.” Regarding President Trump’s guidance to the Department of Justice, consider these two tweets from the spokeswoman for Attorney General Barr:
⏹ 100+ arrests and charged cases under a # of fed laws, including inciting riots and destruction of federal property.
⏹ The @FBI has 200+ open domestic terrorism investigations related to violent protests and anti-riot laws.
— Kerri Kupec DOJ (@KerriKupecDOJ) June 25, 2020
Attorney General Barr’s NPR interview on June 25, which you really must read or listen to in full, included these remarks on the leftist thugs [interviewer questions and assertions in bold]:
One other thing, Attorney General, regarding the recent protests. You made statements raising concerns about left-wing extremists in the protests and your named Antifa, specifically. One of our correspondents looked earlier this month. I believe it was June 9. And while a number of people have been arrested in connection with the protests, and a good number of crimes were committed, as a matter of fact, there was no record of someone connected with any Antifa organization, and it’s not really an organization, who had been named up to that point in prosecutions. You did say around that time that there had been not public information regarding Antifa. Are you able to say now, a couple of weeks later, that anyone has been arrested in connection with that activity you named?
Someone with Antifa? Someone with some antifascist organization?
Yes, but when we arrest people and charge them at this stage anyway, we don’t charge them for being a member of Antifa. We charge them for throwing a Molotov cocktail, or we charge them for possession of a gun, or possession of gasoline and things to make bombs with. Those are the kinds of charges that are filed. Even less sensational charges, such as battery. But we are building, we are obtaining information and intelligence about the operations of these people. Do you really? I mean, do watch the videotapes of these demonstrations?
I’ve watched the videotapes [crosstalk].
You don’t see agitators in hoodies with earpieces, you know, distributing things to throw and things like that? You don’t see that? You don’t see people walking through districts with high-end stores, methodically breaking out the windows with sledgehammers or skateboards? Who are they?
Saw lots of break ins. Absolutely.
Not break-ins and looting. This was not looting. No, no. You obviously haven’t been watching these videos as we have been watching them. [crosstalk]
I’ve been out on the streets. And there have been specific crimes that seem to have been committed under the cover of the protests, as well as any kind of engineered violence. But wouldn’t you have, if you had somebody who was a member of an extremist group, wouldn’t you have mentioned that, and your prosecutors would have mentioned that, in the bail hearing? Like there’d be a public record, that you had evidence of extremists?
Well, at this stage, being a member of a group, and Antifa is really sort of an umbrella term [crosstalk] used for a number of groups. There are a number of groups that have specific names that we’re aware of that are Anti– that’s why I’ve said Antifa-type groups, that some of the people that have been arrested and some of the people that have been charged and some of the people that are under investigation, we have approximately 300 investigations right now, nationwide, do identify as Antifa. So I’m not sure, you know.
From the NPR audience of leftists and wine-drinking, college-educated suburban women, Attorney General Barr turned to the younger conservative and libertarian audience of the very popular podcast started during the impeachment hoax. Verdict with Ted Cruz is available on any podcast platform and on YouTube. Barr hit the same notes about taking actions, making arrests, and added that he expects to make decisions in a few weeks about higher level prosecutions for organizing or directing the riots and property destruction.
On the same day, the House Freedom Caucus seemed to be on the right track, responding to President Trump’s urging to stop talking nice. They spoke of mobocracy and demanded immediate vigorous enforcement by Attorney General Barr, including in states where local authorities refuse to protect American citizens.
Is this all a bit slow? Is President Trump risking the election by not already imposing order? Consider Tucker Carlson’s rebuke to President Trump, Republicans, and the DOJ the same evening:
President Trump senses the election and civilizational danger of this moment. He says he is telling Republicans they must stop laying low, fearful of being criticized for saying something. Paging Senator McSally! Is there a Martha McSally in the house? Paging Senator Cornyn, the eyes of Texas are upon you! Does Cory Gardner have a pair of Rockie Mountain oysters?
Of course, if President Trump had sent in federal law enforcement backed by federalized troops when the rioting started, we would have wall to wall coverage of nice, middle-class college girls and carefully selected people of color acting out being brutalized in response to police closing with and securing them under arrest. This is what the Democrats and their allies wanted. President Trump is trying to get the timing right, not acting too strongly before a majority supports strong action. I think of Frederick Douglass’s assessment of Lincoln here:
His great mission was to accomplish two things: first, to save his country from dismemberment and ruin; and, second, to free his country from the great crime of slavery. To do one or the other, or both, he must have the earnest sympathy and the powerful cooperation of his loyal fellow-countrymen. Without this primary and essential condition to success his efforts must have been vain and utterly fruitless. Had he put the abolition of slavery before the salvation of the Union, he would have inevitably driven from him a powerful class of the American people and rendered resistance to rebellion impossible. Viewed from the genuine abolition ground, Mr. Lincoln seemed tardy, cold, dull, and indifferent; but measuring him by the sentiment of his country, a sentiment he was bound as a statesman to consult, he was swift, zealous, radical, and determined.