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Trump: 'I don't think we'll have to' send military to cities

President TrumpDonald TrumpEx-DOJ official Rosenstein says he was not aware of subpoena targeting Democrats: report Ex-Biden adviser says Birx told him she hoped election turned out 'a certain way' Cheney rips Arizona election audit: 'It is an effort to subvert democracy' MORE on Wednesday said he doesn't think it will be necessary to send military forces to U.S. cities to quell protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.

"It depends. I don’t think we’ll have to. We have very strong powers to do it. The National Guard is customary, and we have a very powerful National Guard," Trump told Sean SpicerSean Michael SpicerDeSantis to hold Newsmax town hall Biden's poor TV ratings against Trump is exactly what this administration wants Overnight Health Care: CDC director calls on Michigan to 'close things down' amid surge in cases | Regeneron says antibody therapy prevents COVID-19 infections MORE, his former press secretary, in an interview on Newsmax.

"As far as going beyond that? Sure, if it was necessary," Trump added. "We have antifa. We have anarchists. We have terrorists, looters. We have a lot of bad people in those groups."

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Trump's comments, which were recorded earlier Wednesday, came on the same day Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperCotton, Pentagon chief tangle over diversity training in military Navy denies NFL rookie Cameron Kinley's request to delay commission to play for Tampa Bay Overnight Defense: Pentagon keeps Trump-era ban on flying LGBT flags | NATO chief urges 'consequences' for Belarus MORE said he opposes invoking the Insurrection Act, an 1807 law that would allow the president to deploy active-duty troops around the country to respond to the protests.

“The option to use active-duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort and only in the most urgent and dire of situations," Esper said. "We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act."

Trump on Monday threatened to deploy military forces to cities that do not bring protesters in line, though his comments to Spicer indicate he is unlikely to follow through.

The president earlier this week ridiculed state and local leaders as "weak," urging them to "dominate" their streets and clamp down on protests. Trump has made an example of Washington, D.C., which does not have the same rights as states to reject the National Guard or other troop deployments, by mobilizing military personnel around the District to police demonstrations.