And with the nation on edge, the gravity of the situation had not been lost on Mr. Trump’s team. At a Friday morning meeting, two White House aides, Brook Rollins and Ja’Ron Smith, argued it would be tone-deaf for Mr. Trump to roll out new initiatives, even those related to the coronavirus, in the next few days that did not pertain to the fallout from Mr. Floyd’s death.
All that could change, especially if the situation continues to deteriorate in cities like Minneapolis, and if cable news — closely monitored by Mr. Trump — is filled with images of violence and carnage.
“Give it 24 or 48 hours,” Charlie Sykes, a longtime conservative radio star who now opposes Mr. Trump, said in an interview. “This is the president who ran as the law and order president. It is almost irresistible.”
Mr. Sykes said it was inevitable that the conservative media outrage machine would ramp up as the right-wing playbook reasserts itself, after the short-term caution in the aftermath of a horrific murder caught on tape.
Indeed, by Friday evening, Mr. Hannity was warning viewers about “radical rioters exploiting this death of Mr. Floyd, committing crimes, justifying crimes, threatening more violence.” To analyze the protests, Ms. Ingraham brought on a provocative guest: Mark Fuhrman, the former Los Angeles police detective infamous for his role in the O.J. Simpson murder trial.
For now, Republican officials continue to see two problems at hand, each of which they believe is serious and urgent. “I understand the protesters are frustrated and they want swift justice, and I feel that for them,” Laura Cox, Republican Party chairwoman in Michigan, said in an interview.
But, Ms. Cox added, “When it starts to be about breaking into police precincts, that’s problematic.”