Washington D.C. and other U.S. cities are already on the radar for protests, riots, and immobilization by Leftist activists regardless of the outcome of the Presidential election on Nov. 3. Groups like ShutDownDC have already begun planning and conducting training to accomplish this state of destruction.
“Trump has shown that he will stop at nothing to maintain his grip on power. Trump will not leave office without mass mobilization and direct action,”
It is quite possible we will not know the outcome of the election for several days after voting, maybe longer, due to large numbers of mail in ballots. This means the protests that will be launched will be uninformed, angry, and free to let their worst instincts guide their actions. If President Trump does not concede regardless of the outcome, past performance shows they will almost certainly get violent. That violence could include attacks of the White House and potentially Congress.
What happens then? Will President Trump call out the National Guard or even active duty military units to quell the violence?
Senior military leaders we have discussed this with have expressed deep concerns regarding the safety and protections due themselves and their subordinates if called to protect our government. They are concerned that a Biden administration would forgo the protections they are due by flipping the tables and condemning them for unlawful actions. They could be called to protect our country, do their jobs, then be accused, prosecuted and potentially convicted.
Let’s walk through the potential scenarios and responses to sustained violence in D.C.
A Trump victory on election night or shortly after.
This will likely cause the greatest amount of immediate violence. A combination of inevitable claims the election was stolen and simple outrage at a result they cannot fathom will push the mobs to unprecedented levels of mayhem. There is little chance the Metro D.C. police will be able to or will even try to contain them.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has been overly sympathetic to the cause of the protesters and has previously kept the police from intervening. That will leave the job of containing the violence to federal law enforcement and likely the National Guard.
The D.C. National Guard has a unique command structure:
“This authority to activate the D.C. National Guard has been delegated, by the President, to the Secretary of Defense and further delegated to the Secretary of the Army. The D.C. National Guard is the only National Guard unit, out of all of the 54 states and territories, which reports only to the President.”
The White House will likely become a focus of the destructive forces and previous riots show it will take a large combined law enforcement and military presence to stop them. It is also very plausible this scenario will spin the situation into a greater frenzy than all the previous protests. President Trump has become the focus of intense hatred and vilification by the Left and the prospect of a second term will be intolerable. Some have already determined they have every right to begin seizing power they feel is improperly taken.
D.C could easily become the national flash point and draw all of the worst elements from around the country. If this creates a large and angry enough element of mutinous people then attempts to breach any perimeter placed around the White House becomes probable. This is the point where the real danger begins.
There is no situation where the leaders responsible for the security of the President and White House can allow a breach. That includes using the entire spectrum of responses up to and including deadly force. It could also include the President invoking the Insurrection Act and deploying active duty military forces.
The danger here to both lives and the Republic is easy to see. Even if the President were to be evacuated from the White House, can you imagine insurrectionists being allowed to breach its walls and ransack it? Imagine the national treasures the rioters and looters would walk away with. No, and any attack attempting this could put its defenders in mortal danger. This situation could end in the deaths of attackers and a major outrage to follow.
Orders to our active duty military forces to protect and defend the seat of our country’s power would be legitimate. Protecting themselves in the implementation of those orders, even if that results in casualties to the attacking forces, would be lawful actions. With the past few months as a window into the likely future actions of the Left, outrage would ensue followed by calls of criminal punishment to those serving. If Trump wins the election, the rules of the law and the Constitution remain in full effect thus protecting those called to defend the Republic.
Let’s look at a second scenario, a lengthy vote-counting delay ending in a Biden victory.
In the intervening time while the election is undecided, a similar scenario to the above could still easily unfold. The protests are already planned; the radicals are coming and the claims of stolen elections will come in the wake of anything short of an immediate Biden victory.
If the violence again escalates and the mobs push to attack the White House, a clash between military and civilians could happen. The immediate action as outlined would be the same, the difference being the aftermath. If the end result is a Biden victory, what will happen to the military leaders and troops involved in violent struggles with attackers?
Given the obvious sympathies of a Biden administration to the cause of the protesters, this is not certain. It is vital to consider that our military personnel would be in jeopardy of being charged and convicted of crimes, even if the orders were lawful and the troops were doing the job they were called to do and in some cases acted in self-defense. The tendency to blame police officers in situations where taking lethal action against criminals was perfectly justified has become far too prevalent. The possibility that the personnel involved in a defense of the White House could become scapegoats is entirely believable.
These scenarios are playing out right now in contingency planning sessions at military units. Every member of the military takes an oath of office swearing to “…support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic….” Our military is a volunteer force. Each member chooses to join therefore chooses to take the oath. Failure to follow orders is a punishable offense under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice.
Can they trust that our military will be fairly treated if these worst-case scenarios come to fruition? We owe them that, but we all should hope it never comes to pass.
— Jim Hanson is President of Security Studies Group and the author of The Myth of White Fragility. LTC Samantha Nerove is a retired paratrooper with multiple combat deployments and CEO of America Matters.