“The false protesters near Lafayette were not peaceful and not real,” Dowd’s letter stated, without citing any evidence. “They are terrorists who use hate-filled students to burn and destroy. They abused and disrespected the police when the police were preparing the area for the 1900 curfew.”
CNN has contacted the White House to comment on the description of the protesters as “terrorists.”
He remained in the bricked-up building, brandishing a camera Bible, only for a few minutes before returning to the White House.
The letter was condemned by the Modern Military Association of America, a nonprofit organization for the LGBTQ veteran and military community.
“Donald Trump has just crossed a very serious line that calls for swift and forceful condemnation of all members of Congress,” said Air Force veteran Jennifer Dane, the group’s interim executive director. “Promoting a letter labeling American citizens who peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights as ‘terrorists’ is a heinous violation of their oath to preserve, protect, and defend the United States Constitution. Now more than ever, it is absolutely crucial that Trump be held accountable for his reckless actions. ”
The episode followed nearly a week of protests across the country that were sometimes turned violent by the death of Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man who died while in police custody in Minneapolis.
In response to the president’s approach, Mattis released a statement on Wednesday warning that the United States “must reject any thought by our cities as a” battle space “that our uniformed military must” dominate. “
“At home, we should use our armed forces only when asked to do so by state governors, on very rare occasions. Militarizing our response, as we saw in Washington, DC, creates a conflict, a false conflict, between the military and civil society,” Mattis wrote.
The president repeatedly defended his response to the protests and even tweeted later Thursday night that he had no problem with the National Guard helicopter that was seen flying low over protesters in Washington on Monday night.
The District of Columbia National Guard is investigating the matter, and Defense Secretary Mark Esper has also requested an investigation.
“The problem is not the very talented, low-flying helicopter pilots who want to save our city, the problem is arsonists, looters, criminals and anarchists, who want to destroy it (and our country)!” Trump tweeted.
The helicopter had a “declared mission” in part to “deter” criminal activity, including riots and looting, while maintaining a presence at the top, according to a defense official who has direct knowledge of the orders given to the crew. The official declined to be identified because the Washington National Guard is now investigating whether the flights were conducted properly.
The Lakota UH-72 was also supposed to deter “illegal gathering”, provide medical evacuation of the crowd if necessary, and provide surveillance to command and control force protection, the official said.
The investigation, the official said, focuses on how those orders resulted in low-level flights, which sent debris and intimidated civilians, the official said.