Campaigning as the candidate of “law and order,” President Donald Trump keeps claiming that he is the one who got the National Guard deployed to deal with rioting in Minnesota.
According to Trump and his team, Trump made the Guard deployment happen over the objections of the state’s Democratic leaders.
“I brought it out five days after they started. They wouldn’t use the National Guard. I brought the National Guard to — I told them, I said, ‘You got to get the National Guard.’ We got them in. Everything stopped in Minneapolis. It was really an amazing thing, actually, to see, and they had no problems after we called out the Guard,” Trump said in an interview with Nexstar on June 17.
“Forced Democrat run Minnesota to bring in the National Guard & end rioting & looting after seeing the destruction & crime in Minneapolis,” he tweeted on June 19.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany made a similar claim at her official briefing on Monday, casting specific blame upon Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz.
“Minnesota’s Democrat governor failed to urgently deploy the National Guard — it took President Trump for that to eventually happen; his suggestion — and the ultimate descendance into chaos there in Minneapolis,” McEnany said.
Facts First: Walz, not Trump, was the one who deployed the Minnesota National Guard; Walz first activated the Guard on May 28, more than seven hours before Trump publicly threatened to deploy the Guard himself. Walz’s office says the governor activated the Guard in response to requests from officials in Minneapolis and St. Paul — cities also run by Democrats. And it’s not true that there were “five days” of unrest before Walz called out the Guard; violent protests began two days prior to Walz’s decision.
It is theoretically possible that pressure from Trump contributed to a Walz decision to activate the entire Minnesota National Guard on May 30, two days after his initial activation of a smaller number of Guard troops. But no evidence has emerged to prove that was the case, and Walz’s office says Trump had nothing to do with either of the governor’s decisions.
“Did Gov. Walz call out the National Guard at the direction of the President? No,” Walz’s press secretary, Teddy Tschann, said in a statement to CNN. “He activated the Minnesota National Guard at the request of the Mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul, before he talked to the White House.”
Tschann’s statement continued: “Did President Trump ‘call out’ the Guard? No.”
Tschann says Walz was in touch with the Trump administration during the unrest, particularly with Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, but that Walz was the one putting forward the plans for the use of the Guard.
The White House declined to comment on Tschann’s statement.
On May 25, George Floyd, a Black man, was killed in the custody of Minneapolis police. Minneapolis protests began May 26, the day video emerged of officer Derek Chauvin, who was later charged with second-degree murder, kneeling on Floyd’s neck as Floyd pleaded that he couldn’t breathe.
Tschann provided CNN a timeline laying out Walz’s account of the Guard deployment.
Tschann said in the timeline that Walz asked the Minnesota National Guard early in the morning of May 28 “to prepare to deploy to Minneapolis and St. Paul that day.” Tschann said Walz’s office received a request for Guard assistance from Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey at 10:55 AM CDT on May 28 — Tschann provided a copy of the request letter from Frey — and a similar request from St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter in the afternoon.
Walz issued a press release just after 4 PM on May 28 announcing he had activated the Minnesota National Guard.
At 4:13 PM, minutes after Walz issued the press release, the Minnesota National Guard’s Twitter account reported that adjutant general Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen had said, “We are ready and prepared to answer the Governor’s request. We are currently in process of assigning and preparing units to respond.”
At 10:41 PM, the Guard announced that “we have activated more than 500 soldiers to St. Paul, Minneapolis and surrounding communities.”
It was not until more than an hour later — 11:53 PM local time — that Trump tweeted a threat to send in the National Guard himself if Frey, whom Trump called “weak” and a radical leftist, did not “get his act together and bring the City under control.”
Trump said in a controversial second 11:53 PM tweet that he had just spoken to Walz “and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
Walz’s office confirmed that Walz had a phone call with Trump on the night of May 28 but would not publicly discuss the substance of the conversation.
Regardless of what was said on the call, it’s not true that Walz had refused to deploy the Guard until he spoke to Trump.
The Minnesota National Guard said in a tweet on the morning of May 30 that 700 personnel had been deployed as of late the previous night and that 1,000 more would be deployed that day.
Then, later in the morning of May 30, Walz announced that he was activating the entire Minnesota National Guard, substantially increasing the Guard presence in the streets; on May 31, the Guard tweeted that more than 5,025 soldiers and airmen had been activated to that point, with plans for more to come.
Tschann said there were no buildings set on fire on the night of May 30, unlike the previous three nights.