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Trump Weighing Options On Protest Response, White House Official Says

President Trump spoke about the protests over the weekend in Florida, where he traveled to watch the SpaceX launch.
Mandel Ngan
AFP via Getty Images
President Trump spoke about the protests over the weekend in Florida, where he traveled to watch the SpaceX launch.

President Trump and the White House have not decided whether he will deliver a formal speech addressing the protests and turmoil that have erupted after George Floyd's death in Minneapolis, White House adviser Brooke Rollins told Politico on Monday.

Mass demonstrations have taken place across the country to call for justice for Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes as Floyd pleaded for help.

Tensions have escalated as police officers have fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters, and some demonstrators have set buildings and cars on fire.

Trump has faced some pressure to speak to the nation about the unrest.

"Everything's on the table," Rollins told Politico in a remote interview. "I think ultimately he believes, and rightfully so, that he is in a constant narrative and conversation with his citizens."

Trump has been tweeting about the case and delivered lengthy remarks on the protests during a NASA event Saturday. He said he supports peaceful protests, but that looting will not be tolerated.

Rollins, who heads the White House Domestic Policy Council, said the White House is examining a list of possible bipartisan "solutions" focused on how to bring the country together.

"How do we use this as a unifying force for this country?" Rollins asked in the Politico interview.

While Rollins talked about reaching across the aisle, Trump has repeatedly lashed out about the protests in partisan terms, calling out governors and mayors who are Democrats. He's urged officials to use the military to crack down on demonstrators. In a call Monday, Trump called governors weak and urged them to dominate protesters, according to a person on the line.

Trump has also raised the protests as an election issue, slamming his Democratic rival Joe Biden.

On Friday, Twitter placed a warning on a tweet from Trump that said "when the looting starts, the shooting starts," referring to the protests. Twitter said the post "glorified violence." Trump later denied he was using the phrase as a threat.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.
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