Shortly after several media outlets reported on President Donald Trump’s remarks during a call with U.S. governors Monday morning, The Daily Beast obtained and published the full audio of the call:
President Donald Trump reportedly ripped U.S. governors in a conference call Monday morning for failing to do enough to “dominate” the tens of thousands of people who have taken to the streets across the U.S. to protest the police killing of George Floyd.
The president urged state leaders to crack down even more harshly on demonstrators—who have already been treated brutally by law enforcement—with mass arrests and lengthy prison sentences.
“You have to dominate, if you don’t dominate you’re wasting your time,” Trump said, according to audio of the call obtained by CBS News. “They’re going to run over you, you’re going to look like a bunch of jerks. You have to dominate.”
Trump called on state officials to track demonstrators and hit them with a decade in prison as a deterrent against future protests. “You’ve got to arrest people, you have to track people, you have to put them in jail for 10 years and you’ll never see this stuff again,” Trump said.
“This is fascism,” tweeted Evan Greer, deputy director of internet privacy group Fight for the Future. “He’s describing fascism.”
One anonymous person listening in on the call told Ed O’Keefe of CBS that the president’s tone and words during the call were “unhinged.”
The Washington Post, citing three anonymous officials who were on the call, reported that Trump pressed governors to “take back the streets and use force to confront protesters and said if they did not, they would look like ‘fools,’ alarming several governors on the call as they communicated privately.”
“You have to use the military,” Trump said, according to the Post.
Trump’s comments came hours after thousands of people poured into the streets of Washington, D.C. and other major cities around the U.S. over the weekend to protest Floyd’s killing at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. On Friday night, according to the New York Times, Trump was rushed into a secure and underground bunker by Secret Service agents as protests erupted outside the White House.
While Trump has yet to deliver a formal address to the nation on Floyd’s killing and the uprising it sparked, the president has tweeted out incendiary threats against demonstrators and criticized local officials for not being sufficiently brutal in their handling of the mass protests.
On Saturday, the president said the U.S. military “can have troops on the ground” in Minneapolis “very quickly.”
“We have our military ready, willing, and able, if they ever want to call our military,” Trump said.
Illinois Gov. J. B. Pritzker, a Democrat, reportedly raised alarm about Trump’s response to the nationwide demonstrations during the conference call Monday morning.
“I have been extraordinarily concerned with the rhetoric coming out of the White House making it worse,” said Pritzker. “People are feeling real pain out there. We have to have national leadership in calling for calm.”