News and Commentary

Wallace And Trump Clash After Trump Claims Biden ‘Wants To Defund’ The Police
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks in the Oval Office before signing an executive order related to regulating social media on May 28, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Photo by Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

On Friday, Fox News released a clip from an interview with President Donald Trump set to air on Sunday.

In the clip, Trump alleges that the rise in crime in major cities across the United States is due to those cities being poorly run by Democratic politicians. After Fox News anchor Chris Wallace probes the president as to why this issue has so recently gotten so out of hand, Trump says that it’s because “they want to defund the police.”

The president then adds that “Biden wants to defund [the police].”

WALLACE: You’ve seen deaths up in New York, deaths up in Chicago, shootings. How do you explain it, and what are you going to do about it?

TRUMP: I explain it very simply by saying they’re Democrat-run cities; they’re liberally-run; they’re stupidly-run.

WALLACE: Liberal Democrats have been running cities in this country for decades –

TRUMP: Poorly.

WALLACE: Why is it so bad right now?

TRUMP: They’ve run them poorly – it was always bad, but now it’s gotten totally out of control. And it’s really because they want to defund the police. And Biden wants to defund [the police].

WALLACE: Sir, he does not.

TRUMP: Look, he signed a charter with Bernie Sanders –

WALLACE: It says nothing about defunding the police.

TRUMP: Oh, really? It says abolish, it says [defund] – let’s go.

WALLACE: All right.

TRUMP: Get me the charter, please.

WALLACE: All right.

The clip ends there, but Wallace explained to the network’s Bill Hemmer what happened next:

That led to a very interesting exchange where he had his staff go out and get the highlights from that 100-page compact that the Biden team and the Sanders team had signed, and he went through it and he found a lot of things that he objected to that Biden has agreed to, but he couldn’t find any indication – because there isn’t any – that Joe Biden has sought to defund and abolish the police.

Following the release of the clip, President Trump defended himself in a tweet: “Corrupt Joe Biden wants to defund our police. He may use different words, but when you look at his pact with Crazy Bernie, and other things, that’s what he wants to do. It would destroy America!”

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has indeed spoken about issues surrounding police misconduct recently but appears to have avoided any direct talk of defunding or abolishing the police.

During an interview with activist Ady Barkan published by NowThis in early-July, Biden spoke about police reform and the reallocation of certain police funding.

BIDEN: There’s a need for fundamental change in us being able to have transparency, be able to have access to the records of police when they had misconduct charges against them, to be able to know where they are so they can’t go from one police department to the next. That should be held, in my administration, that information will have to be made available to the Justice Department and held in a file, so you’ll be able to track this.

Surplus military equipment for law enforcement, they don’t need that. The last thing you need is an up-armored Humvee coming into a neighborhood – it’s like the military invading. They don’t know anybody; they become the enemy. They’re supposed to be protecting these people.

So my generic point is that—

BARKAN: But do we agree that we can redirect some of the funding?

BIDEN: Yes. Absolutely – and one of the things that we also need to be doing is fundamentally changing the way – and I’ve been pushing it for years – changing the way we deal with our prison system.

Under the criminal justice reform section of the “Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force Recommendations” document, which is over 100 pages long, there is no mention of abolishing or defunding the police.

The portion of the document dealing with criminal justice goes on at length about police reform, such as the “continued use” of body cameras, “investing in robust training,” nationwide “standards” on “use of force,” and “over-policing” seemingly as it pertains to the American drug epidemic.

That section of the document reads in part:

Democrats believe we must ensure real accountability for individual and systemic misconduct in our police departments, prevent law enforcement from becoming unnecessarily entangled in the everyday lives of Americans, and reimagine policing for the benefit and safety of the American people. In recent years, some innovative police departments have enacted evidence-based reforms to change their approach: investing in robust training and putting in place—and, even more crucially, enforcing—strong standards governing conflict resolution, de-escalation, and use of force. We must build on these evidence-based approaches and implement them nationwide.

Democrats will establish strict national standards governing the use of force, including permitting deadly force only when necessary and a last resort to prevent an imminent threat to life. We will require immediate application of these standards to all federal law enforcement agencies and condition federal grants on their adoption at the state and local level. We will require officer training in effective nonviolent tactics, appropriate use of force, implicit bias, and peer intervention, both at the academy and on the job. And we will ban racial and religious profiling in law enforcement.

It is past time to end the failed “War on Drugs,” which has imprisoned millions of Americans— disproportionately people of color—and hasn’t been effective in reducing drug use. Democrats support policies that will reorient our public safety approach toward prevention, and away from over-policing—including by making evidence-based investments in jobs, housing, education, and the arts that will make our nation fairer, freer, and more prosperous.

In a recent op-ed for USA Today, Biden wrote (emphasis added): “While I do not believe federal dollars should go to police departments violating people’s rights or turning to violence as the first resort, I do not support defunding police. The better answer is to give police departments the resources they need to implement meaningful reforms, and to condition other federal dollars on completing those reforms.”

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