President Trump announced Sunday the National Guard would withdraw from Washington, D.C., saying that “everything is under perfect control” following nearly two weeks of peaceful protests and violent rioting and looting in response to the death of George Floyd.
“I have just given an order for our National Guard to start the process of withdrawing from Washington, D.C., now that everything is under perfect control,” Trump tweeted. “They will be going home, but can quickly return, if needed. Far fewer protesters showed up last night than anticipated!”
Unveiling the newly minted “Black Lives Matter Plaza” just steps from the White House, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Friday she would evict the National Guard from hotels, citing a “budgetary issue.”
In response, Trump tweeted: “The incompetent Mayor of Washington, D.C., @MayorBowser, who’s [sic] budget is totally out of control and is constantly coming back to us for ‘handouts’, is now fighting with the National Guard, who saved her from great embarrassment over the last number of nights.
“If she doesn’t treat these men and women well, then we’ll bring in a different group of men and women!” he said.
More than 5,000 National Guard soldiers and airmen from 11 states and Washington, D.C., were manning traffic control points, aid stations and protecting the safety of peaceful protesters in the nation’s capital on Saturday.
A law enforcement source told Fox News that an estimated 200,000 people went to protest in D.C. throughout the course of the day. Though, Trump said there was a “much smaller crowd in D.C. than anticipated.”
Using the hashtag “#1MillionDCSaturday,” Black Lives Matter organizers had hoped to draw a million protesters to the Capitol, National Mall and near the White House. Authorities have expanded the fenced security perimeter around the White House, which now reaches to the outskirts of a park complex known as the Ellipse, near the National Mall.
Trump came under fire last week after riot police cleared peaceful protesters out of Lafayette Square, using pepper balls and smoke canisters so that the president could walk to a neighboring church for a photo-op. He made the appearance after reports had circulated about Trump retreating to an underground bunker amid the civil unrest.
The National Guard tweeted Saturday that some 43,000 Guard troops were deployed across 34 states and D.C. to assist law enforcement with civil unrest, while 37,000 Guard soldiers and airmen continue to assist with COVID-19 response.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw and Morgan Phillips contributed to this report.