The White House press corps has asked President Donald Trump’s press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, the same question for the last four briefings in a row: does the president believe there is “systemic racism” in law enforcement?
(Transcripts via White House and C-SPAN)
June 1, 2020 – Weijia Jiang, CBS:
Q: Thank you. I have a quick follow-up about police reform. National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien says he does not think there is systemic racism among law enforcement in the U.S. Does President Trump share that view?
A: Look, I think where the President stands is he does not believe — he fundamentally rejects the idea that these egregious actions of these four Minnesota officers are representative of our police force as a whole. Most of our officers in this country are good, hard-working men and women who work every day to police our streets.
He’s recognized cases of injustice. I noted Sandra Bland, back when he was in the primary. I’ve noted, more recently, Ahmaud Arbery and then George Floyd. So he recognizes these injustices. He puts a focus on them, but he also recognizes our valiant police officers who have taken to the streets each and every night over the last six nights and protected our communities.
June 3, 2020 – Lachlan Markay, Daily Beast:
Q: Thank you, Kayleigh. Putting aside the conduct of individual officers, does the President believe that there’s a systemic bias in American law enforcement against African Americans?
A: The President believes that there are injustices, and he has pointed them out. And he has not hesitated in pointing out injustices, going back to his time as a primary candidate, when he called Sandra Bland and the use of force against her, in the video that we all saw, “terrible.” He did not hesitate when he saw the video of George Floyd. He was really upset by that video, as I noted. He also — we’ve got the civil rights investigation into Ahmaud Arbery.
He points out injustices, but he also notes this: that our police officers are good people. I’ve seen them out there on the streets protecting people. I played the videos for you of the police embracing protesters, standing with the protesters. They’re good, hardworking people. They protect our streets. That is what law enforcement is about.
And — but at the same time, the President will note and he will call out injustices. And this is a President who’s not hesitated in doing that when the time was right.
Q: I know he’s called out individual actions, but does he believe that the problem is systemic and endemic to American law enforcement?
A: The President believes there are some examples of injustices. He calls them out. This is a President who, when Democrats, for so many years, talked about criminal justice reform and the disparities, the racial disparities in sentencing, it didn’t — President Obama didn’t do that. Guess who fixed that? It was President Trump with the FIRST STEP Act, who engaged in sentencing reform, and who really rectified some of the disparities we saw there.
So, you know, I think Democrats, others, Republicans should hail this President for calling out injustices when he sees them, either on a case-by-case basis or in the form of the FIRST STEP Act where he noted the disparity in sentencing reforms.
June 8, 2020 – Kaitlan Collins, CNN:
Q: I have two questions for you. As you are going over your reforms and what you think is needed, does the President feel that there is systemic racism in law enforcement?
A: The President has been very clear: There are injustices in society. I’ve noted several for you that he’s pointed out as a Republican primary candidate: noting the Sandra Bland video was absolutely horrible; noting George Floyd — there’s a civil rights investigation into that. He definitely believes there are instances of racism.
But, look, he believes our law enforcement are the best in the world. He believes that, by and large, they are good people. The 750 who were injured defending this country from rioters and Antifa in the streets — as to be distinguished from the peaceful protesters — those 750 officers who were hurt defending our country were heroes — as was David Dorn, a police officer who lost his life, and Patrick Underwood, who also lost his life in the last week or so.
Q: But he doesn’t think that there is systemic racism in law enforcement?
A: He believes most of our police officers are good, hardworking people — there’s a lot of evidence of that — and he has great faith in our police department.
June 10, 2020 – Jonathan Karl, ABC:
Q: Does the president believe there’s a problem with institutional racism in this country and institutional racism in law enforcement?
A: Look, I’ve answered this question — I think this is the fourth time I’ve been asked it, and I’ve said each and every time: there are injustices that we have seen. Clearly, that tape of George Floyd was inexcusable, gut wrenching, difficult to watch, and it was really a beautiful funeral yesterday, all the great testimonies to his life. We recognize those injustices. Santa Bland, another example. But this president knows fundamentally that most police officers in this country are good. That the 750 men and women that have been injured, that David Dorn, the police officer who was killed, and Patrick Underwood, a law enforcement officer who was killed, are emblematic of what police in this country stand for: that is the that is the brightest, and that is our domestic heroes.
Journalists also asked White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow the same question on Wednesday. Kudlow answered: “I don’t believe there’s systemic racism in the U.S. I’m not going to go into a long riff on it.”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, is available for pre-order. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.