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GOP senators criticize Trump’s reaction to unrest after Floyd’s death

“I think the country is definitely looking for healing and tranquility, and I think that’s the tone that the president has to project when he talks about what’s happening across the country,” said South Dakota Republican John Thune, towards CNN. “I think he has to set a tone that matches the level of frustration the country is experiencing, and I hope he will do so in the future.”

Senator John Cornyn, also a member of the Senate GOP leadership, told CNN that “I think it’s important” that Trump sends a more unified message amid deep unrest across the county.

“I expect that he will eventually address the nation,” said Cornyn from Texas. “If I gave him advice, I would say we need it sooner rather than later.”


At a time when Trump could comfort the nation, Republicans – who rarely abandon Trump – express their disapproval that the President has expressed little condolences and instead brought them to Twitter to encourage division and blame.

“Some of his tweets weren’t helpful,” Senator Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, said at a press conference on Monday. “It would be helpful if he changed the tone of his message.”

The message of his own party comes as protests have grown across the country from Los Angeles to Washington with no end in sight.

“We are obviously in an escalating split now. He has to make more consistent comments,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a West Virginia Republican.

Trump stirs up tensions over George Floyd's protests before calling for calm

Republican Senator Susan Collins from Maine spoke in the Senate and urged Trump to “help heal segregation.”

“The president should help heal the racial divisions in this country,” said Collins. “In times like these, a president has to speak to the nation, commit wrong, and calm passionate passions.”

When asked later whether she thinks the president needs to deliver a unified message, Collins said, “I do.”

Senator Cory Gardner, who, like Collins, is facing re-election next year, did not directly criticize Trump, but added: “We all have to do it better every day – we have to.”

On Friday, the president’s handling of the situation was scrutinized after tweeting: “When the looting begins, the shootout begins,” a sentence by Miami Head’s controversial chief of police, Walter Headley, at the height of the civil rights movement comes from. Headley, who defended practices like police dogs and violence, said at a press conference, “We don’t mind being accused of police brutality,” a New York Times article said.

“These are not constructive tweets without question,” Senator Tim Scott, the only black Republican in the US Senate, told Fox on Sunday. “I will say that, I spoke to the President (Saturday) morning and he and I had a good conversation about the next steps. I told him what I will tell you. I told him, Mr. President, it helps us if you focus on the death, which I believe is unjustified, the criminal death of George Floyd. ‘”

During a private conversation with governors on Monday, the president continued to beat up others about what happened, accusing some states of being weak, and arguing that law enforcement must “dominate” demonstrators to curb demonstrations in cities across the country.

“You have to dominate or you look like a bunch of idiots, you have to arrest people and put them on trial,” the president said to the governors in a call from the White House Situation Room in the basement, according to an audio recording of the CNN call received.

Majority leader Mitch McConnell would not answer questions on Monday whether he believed Trump had hit the right note in dealing with the unrest. Majority leader Mitch McConnell would not answer questions on Monday whether he believed Trump had hit the right note in dealing with the unrest. Others also declined to comment on Trump’s tweets, including Senator David Perdue of Georgia, who faces voters in the fall.

“Well, obviously this is an evolving situation – I think this is a difficult position the President is in,” said Florida Senator Marco Rubio when asked if Trump should change his tone to unity to emphasize.

However, this is not the first time that Republicans have been struggling to defend the president during a presidential crisis. During Trump’s first summer of office, the President was criticized by the Republicans for having “very good people on both sides” when referring to violent clashes in Charlottesville that resulted in the death of Heather Heyer by a white supremacist.

On Monday, McConnell showed a completely different tone than the President of the Senate.

“In no world should a police officer who arrests a man for a suspected minor violation place his knee on a man’s neck for nine minutes while shouting” I can’t breathe “and then falls silent,” said McConnell. “For me, for many of my Kentuckians, and for many indignant Americans, these troubling events don’t look like three isolated cases, but rather like the latest chapter in our national struggle for equal justice and protection of the law in the facts of life for all Americans.”

This story was updated on Monday with further developments.

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