In an interview with Fox News host Jeanine Pirro set to air on Saturday, the president was asked how he would respond if riots erupted in response to him winning the election. He was clear that he would not tolerate any such demonstrations.
“We’ll put them down very quickly if they do that. We have the right to do that. We have the power to do that, if we want,” Trump said.
He also noted that, should it come to that, any uprisings could be quelled quickly.
“Look, it’s called insurrection. We just send in, and we do it very easy. I mean, it’s very easy. I’d rather not do that because there’s no reason for it, but if we had to, we’d do that and put it down within minutes,” he added.
Trump has been using the prospect of riots to appeal to voters for several months now. This rhetoric intensified after the death of George Floyd on May 25, which sparked protests in multiple U.S. cities, some of which have turned violent.
Other protests — sometimes violent — have erupted in response to the deaths of other Black people in police custody since George Floyd.
As The New York Post reported, the president has tried to characterize his opponent, Democrat Joe Biden, as the candidate of violence and rioting, and has insisted that unrest will continue if he isn’t reelected.
“Joe Biden and his party spent the entire summer cheering on the rioters rampaging through Democrat-run cities, falsely labeling them as peaceful protesters,” Trump said last week at a North Carolina campaign rally.
The possibility that there may be riots on Election Night or afterward, regardless of who wins, is a situation being looked at by experts.
As Vox reported, an organization called the Transition Integrity Project (TIP) convened a group of more than 100 bipartisan experts to brainstorm what might happen in a variety of different election scenarios, such as Biden winning narrowly and Trump contesting the vote. In a summary of its findings, the group concluded that “the potential for violent conflict is high, particularly since Trump encourages his supporters to take up arms.”
Trump, for his part, has suggested that he might suppress riots via the Insurrection Act, an 1807 law that authorizes the president, as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, to deploy U.S. troops domestically to enforce federal or state laws under certain circumstances.