WASHINGTON (AP) — It's become a pattern when unrest flares in a city: President Donald Trump suggests he has National Guard troops ready to send to the scene and takes credit for dispatching them and restoring calm while he accuses Democrats of being squishy on law and order.
That's a distortion.
Trump omits the fact that he is largely a bystander in National Guard deployments. While presidents can tap rarely used powers to use federal officers for local law enforcement, there is no National Guard with national reach for Trump to send around the country.
And when violence broke out in Kenosha, Wisconsin, a week ago, Trump's demand that National Guard troops be used came a day after the Democratic governor had already activated them.
National Guard units in each state answer to the governor and sometimes state legislatures, not to the president. When National Guard forces from outside Wisconsin came in to help, it was because the governor has asked for that help from fellow governors, not the White House.
You would know none of this from Trump's Twitter account and much of his other rhetoric in recent weeks as he has assailed Democratic officials in Minnesota, Oregon and Wisconsin for not doing enough quickly enough to stem violence..
Here's how Trump's words played against reality after a Kenosha, Wisconsin, police officer shot Jacob Blake, sparking protests and yet more violence over police actions and racism:
TRUMP, TUESDAY, AUG. 25: “Governor should call in the National Guard in Wisconsin. It is ready, willing, and more than able. End problem FAST! ”
THE FACTS: Although Trump was within his right to urge use of the National Guard, he did not seem up to speed on the fact it had already happened.
On Monday, Aug. 24 -- the day after Blake's shooting — Gov. Tony Evers issued a statement saying that at the request of local officials, he had “authorized the Wisconsin National Guard to support local law enforcement in Kenosha County to help protect critical infrastructure and assist in maintaining public safety and the ability of individuals to peacefully protest.”
On that Monday night, when police say a 17-year-old armed civilian shot and killed two protesters, Wisconsin National Guard troops were on the ground.