Sen. Cotton: Trump should use Insurrection Act to quell riots, violence

Sen. Tom Cotton believes the time has come for President Donald Trump to employ a rarely-used law to gain control over escalating riots around the country that are causing billions in damage and are clearly no longer related to the untimely death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

The Arkansas Republican called on the president to use the Insurrection Act, an 1807 law that gives presidents the authority to deploy the regular U.S. military within the U.S. to put down rebellions and general lawlessness.


He said in an interview that Trump should "deploy active-duty military forces" to cities across America to "ensure this violence ends tonight."

He told “Fox & Friends” Monday morning that Americans should have "zero tolerance for anarchy, rioting, and looting.”

"There are a lot of tools that the president and the Department of Justice have in their tool kit, from the Insurrection Act, to the Explosives Act, to the Riot Act that can be used to stop this anarchy," Cotton, a Harvard-educated lawyer and former U.S. Army officer with multiple combat tours, said.

"Let’s be clear in the broader context here. The video of George Floyd’s death is deeply disturbing. I welcome the quick action by local authorities and the Department of Justice to investigate, to get the facts, and to do justice for George Floyd in accordance with law,” Cotton added.

Cotton also noted that the violence and destruction was hitting very close to the White House in the nation’s capitol.

“In Washington, D.C. they set fire to a historic church attended by every president since James Madison. They defaced the Department of Veterans Affairs and the World War II Memorial which honor our veterans,” he continued. 

“They defaced the Lincoln Memorial, a temple in which we remember the Great Emancipator," he said. "What the president can do is say that justice will be done in accordance with law for George Floyd."

The Republican senator went on to say, “If local law enforcement is overwhelmed, if local politicians will not do their most basic job to protect our citizens, let’s see how these anarchists respond when the 101st Airborne is on the other side of the street.”

He noted further that "violence isn't protest: it's domestic terrorism."

Incidents of looting, burning of buildings, and violent assaults have been regularly posted to social media online. And though the acts of anarchy are likely being committed only by a minority of people, the effects they are having on the country are outsized. What’s more, the more these rioters are left to their own devices, the more empowered they will become and then such violence is likely to spread.

President Donald Trump has also been pushing governors to get tougher with rioters as well. He reportedly told them during a conference call over the weekend that they were appearing “weak” by refusing to crack down, though it appears as rioting may be ebbing in some places.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr issued a statement Sunday noting that rioters and looters, as well as anyone affiliated with the far-Left Antifa organization, will be targeted for law enforcement.

“It is time to stop watching the violence and to confront and stop it.  The continued violence and destruction of property endangers the lives and livelihoods of others, and interferes with the rights of peaceful protestors, as well as all other citizens,” he said.