Liberals expressed disgust Monday night at President Trump’s mobilizing of military and civilian forces to confront nationwide rioting.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, Washington Democrat, said the president’s action “proves that he cannot lead us through these tumultuous times and unite the country.”
“Instead, he has decided to rely on the use of force to address those who he views as a threat,” Mr. Smith said. “I urge President Trump to reverse course and use the full weight of the presidency to calm tensions across the country, not escalate them. It simply doesn’t have to be this way.”
The president on Monday night threatened to invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807 to deploy military troops to stop rioting if governors can’t restore order with National Guard troops.
“The domestic deployment of our armed services is an incredibly serious undertaking that should not be taken lightly,” Mr. Smith said. “It is un-American to use our service members to ‘dominate’ civilians, as both the President and Secretary of Defense have suggested. We live in a democracy, not a dictatorship.”
New York State Attorney General Letitia said the president “is not a dictator.”
“President Trump does not and will not dominate New York state,” she said. “In fact, the president does not have the right to unilaterally deploy U.S. military across American states. We respect and will guard the right to peaceful protest, and my office will review any federal action with an eye toward protecting our state’s rights. Rest assured: We will not hesitate to go to court to protect our constitutional rights during this time and well into the future.”
Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David said Mr. Trump’s announcement “could have come from Bull Connor or George Wallace,” referring to a public-safety commissioner and governor of Alabama who clashed with civil-rights activists in the 1960s.
“You cannot silence us, Mr. President, because you don’t like the message or the speaker,” Mr. David said. “This country is not governed by authoritarian rule, despite your best efforts. We are going to advocate and fight for our country and the freedoms our forebearers died for. You will hear us — tonight, tomorrow and on Election Day.”
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York said on Twitter, “How low can this president go?”
“President Trump ordered federal authorities to fire tear gas at peaceful protesters so that he could hold a photo op to appear like a tough guy,” Mr. Schumer tweeted. “His words are empty. His actions reveal his true nature.”
Rep. John Yarmuth, Kentucky Democrat and chairman of the House Budget Committee, said the president “just declared war on millions of Americans and the 1st Amendment. He is the greatest threat to the American way of life in our history.”
Rep. Joe Kennedy III, Massachusetts Democrat, tweeted a photo of Mr. Trump holding a Bible in front of the church and commented, “This egotistical, racist President must go.”
Rep. Val Demings, Florida Democrat who’s a contender to become the running mate for presumptive nominee Joseph R. Biden, said on Twitter, “Donald Trump may not consider himself a fascist. But he’s using every trick in the book.”
District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser objected to the actions surrounding the president’s visit to St. John’s Church.
“I imposed a curfew at 7pm,” she tweeted. “A full 25 minutes before the curfew & w/o provocation, federal police used munitions on peaceful protestors in front of the White House, an act that will make the job of @DCPoliceDept officers more difficult. Shameful!”
She told District residents, “Go home. Be Safe.”