Some protesters "would have defaced every monument, they would have looted every business they could, and they would have gone all the way to the White House," "Fox & Friends Weekend" co-host Pete Hegseth said Friday after returning home from a three-day National Guard deployment in Washington, D.C.
Recalling the violence he witnessed on the ground, Hegseth called it a "dicey scene" as rioters assaulted police and members of the Guard with frozen water bottles, bricks, and fireworks. He said there were many peaceful protesters, but also violent groups mixing in.
"It's scary, guys," Hegseth told "Fox & Friends" hosts Ainsley Earhardt, Steve Doocy and Griff Jenkins.
"Thank God for the men and women who wear the uniform of the Metro PD, of the federal agencies that were there and then the D.C. National Guard for what they stood up for, what they took," he went on.
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"The vile things said to them as they stood on the line...it was an honor to serve with them. If the National Guard had not been called up, I can't help but think where Washington, D.C. would be right now."
"They would have defaced every monument, they would have looted every business they could, and they would have gone all the way to the White House."
Heavily armed National Guardsmen in tactical gear have been on the district’s streets for days, after demonstrators set fires, broke store windows and stole items from the shelves, leaving police officers injured and in need of backup.
"I watched bottles and bricks and rocks be thrown at us throughout," Hegseth said. "This was a violent anti-cop, anti-American riot at many levels that would have gone much further without the additional federal support."
Hegseth commended the young soldiers who stood next to him — most of whom who deployed and left their homes to protect the White House and other properties with an only hours notice.
"I'm so proud of these young men and women. I stood there with a shield and mask on and heard people scream at me. I have heard it all so I'm used to it," he said, "but imagine a young kid, 19, 20, 21, a black kid from Washington, D.C...standing on that line, and the utter hatred being screamed at them..."
Hegseth described a "surreal scene" as he and other guardsmen secured Lafayette Park, just steps from the White House gates.
"We were standing outside Lafayette Park with the White House in the backdrop. It was surreal watching," he said. "People didn't want to just protest outside of the gate...they wanted to go further, take down the country, defund the cops...what they want to do is destroy America. I'm talking about the hardcore members -- not protesters -- trying to use this to destroy our union. It's so clear on the ground what their mission is and it's scary."
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Hegseth later slammed New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for his failure to call on the Guard, calling him "a fool" for citing logistics as an excuse to use a show of force and contain the violent protests in his city.
"That show of force was part of why we got to Wednesday, the last night that I was there," Hegseth said, "where it was largely peaceful because it was understood we have the numbers and the ability to contain this."