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CNN host Erin Burnett interviews former CNN anchor Bernard Shaw on her show, "OutFront," on June 1, 2020. (Screenshot) CNN host Erin Burnett interviews former CNN anchor Bernard Shaw on her show, "OutFront," on June 1, 2020. (Screenshot)

CNN host Erin Burnett interviews former CNN anchor Bernard Shaw on her show, "OutFront," on June 1, 2020. (Screenshot)

Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson June 2, 2020

Erin Burnett corrects inaccurate statements about Insurrection Act

If Your Time is short

• During her CNN show, Burnett said on several occasions that a president hasn’t deployed U.S. military troops on U.S. soil since 1807. That’s incorrect.

• The law was signed in 1807, but it was last invoked in 1992, and had been invoked numerous times during the 1950s and 1960s to protect civil rights for black Americans in the South.

• Burnett corrected her statement in a tweet sent shortly after the show ended.

Shortly after law enforcement officers were ordered to push peaceful protesters out of Lafayette Square so that Donald Trump could walk from the White House to St. John’s Episcopal Church for a photo opportunity, CNN anchor Erin Burnett made several mentions of a law that Trump had been considering invoking: the Insurrection Act of 1807.

"If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them," Trump said from the White House’s Rose Garden, referring to the looting and other violence that followed the death in police custody of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Soon after the start of her show, "Erin Burnett OutFront," Burnett referred to Trump’s possible use of the law.

The president, she said, was "basically saying that he is going to go ahead with an act back from 1807 for the first time, mobilizing U.S. military troops on American soil for the first time since 1807."

Burnett repeated this point several times during her show.

She said that "moments ago" Trump said that "he is mobilizing the U.S. military for the first time since 1807 under the Insurrection Act to go into the states, to deploy them and quickly solve the problem for them, if the cities and states refuse."

She repeated this later, during an exchange with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. When Cuomo asked, "When was the last time you saw the American military called out against Americans?" Burnett responded, "1807."

Finally, she repeated it in an exchange with former CNN anchor Bernard Shaw. 

She said that Trump would be "invoking an act not invoked since 1807 to deploy U.S. military troops on American soil."

There’s a problem, however. While the Insurrection Act was indeed passed and signed by President Thomas Jefferson in 1807, it has been invoked many times since then, a reality that Burnett tweeted a correction after the show.

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The 1807 law allows state governments to seek assistance from the federal government to put down insurrections. It also allows, in limited circumstances, the U.S. military to be deployed domestically without the consent of the state.

The consensual provision was last used in May 1992, amid riots in Los Angeles after the acquittals of officers charged with the beating of Rodney King, a black motorist. The assistance was requested by then-California Gov. Pete Wilson.

The provision that allows the president to override state officials has been invoked as well, historically to protect the civil rights of black Americans in the 1950s and 1960s. 

Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and John Kennedy used these provisions in Arkansas, Alabama and Mississippi to enforce civil rights laws, and Kennedy invoked it to send federal troops to Birmingham, Ala., during civil rights protests.

After her show Burnett tweeted, "I mistakenly said tonight that the insurrection act hasn’t been invoked since 1807. That’s incorrect. The last time it was used was 1992."

 

Our ruling

Burnett said that if Trump decides to deploy the U.S. military domestically, he would be "mobilizing U.S. military troops on American soil for the first time since 1807."

That’s not correct. The law was passed in 1807, but it was last invoked in 1992.

We rate the statement False.

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Erin Burnett corrects inaccurate statements about Insurrection Act

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