Trump, Biden campaigns assign blame for violence
Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s surrogates continued on Sunday to push back against President Donald Trump and many Republicans who have blamed Democrats for the violence that has broken out in several cities, arguing the responsibility for the unrest lies with the president.
“It is happening under Donald Trump’s watch,” Klobuchar told ABC News’ “This Week,” turning a charge Trump leveled at Democratic nominee Joe Biden on its head. “We are not safe in Donald Trump’s America.”
Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La. – national co-chairman for the Biden campaign – used similar language on NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” saying Trump “keeps talking about what Biden’s America would look like. Well, this is Trump’s America.”
“He has to own this moment. He has to own the incompetence around coronavirus and 180,000 American deaths, almost six million infections,” Richmond said. “This is his America. So how do you break this country and then run for reelection saying, ‘I want to fix everything that I just destroyed?'”
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During the Republican National Convention last week, Trump and his supporters repeatedly argued protests and unrest would grow if Biden becomes president and falsely claimed Biden had not condemned violent demonstrators.
In his closing RNC speech Thursday, Trump said, “No one will be safe in Biden’s America.”
“Remember: every example of violence Donald Trump decries has happened on his watch. Under his leadership. During his presidency,” Biden tweeted near the end of Trump’s speech.
The next day, Biden mirrored Trump’s language in another tweet.
“The President incites violence, inspires white-supremacist shooters, and his failed COVID response is costing thousands of lives per day. When you look at the world right now, ask yourself: Do you feel safe in Trump’s America?” Biden asked.
Violence first broke out after the death of George Floyd, a black man killed in Minneapolis police custody. Across the country, a wave of largely peaceful protests against police brutality followed but some were marred by incidents of violence and vandalism. The unrest continued to simmer, particularly in Portland, where ongoing clashes between protesters and police, as well as federal officials, drew national attention.
A second wave of protests began after video showed police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, showed police shoot Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man, multiple times in the back. Two deadly incidents have taken place since the protests over Blake’s shooting began. Last week, three demonstrators in Kenosha were shot, two fatally and on Saturday, a man was fatally shot in Portland in clashes between protesters and counter-protesters.
Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old who traveled from Illinois to Kenosha, has been charged as an adult with one count each of intentional homicide and reckless homicide for the Aug. 25 shootings. Rittenhouse, who took an AR-15 to the protests, told reporters he had gone there to protect private property.
Biden has been a vocal supporter of Black Lives Matter and calls for reforms to reduce police violence against Black Americans. But, despite some Trump surrogates claims to the contrary, Biden does not support the movement to “defund the police” and has denounced violent demonstrations.
Trump claimed Biden’s recent denunciations of the violence were in response to poor poll numbers. But Biden and his supporters pointed out that he called for the protests to remain peaceful in May after Floyd’s death.
“Protesting such brutality is right and necessary. It’s an utterly American response,” Biden said in a May 30 statement. “But burning down communities and needless destruction is not. Violence that endangers lives is not.”
Biden will reportedly repeat his denunciation of violence during an appearance Monday while blaming Trump for the events that have occurred on his watch.
Trump plans to travel to Kenosha on Tuesday where White House spokesman Judd Deere said he will meet with law enforcement officials and “survey damage from recent riots.”
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When asked on “Meet the Press” if the president took responsibility for the unrest taking place during his administration, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Trump had offered to send federal forces into Kenosha and Portland “to restore peace.”
“You want to talk about Donald Trump’s America. Most of Donald Trump’s America is peaceful,” Meadows said. “It is a Democrat-led city in Portland that we’re talking about this morning who just yesterday denied help once again from the federal government.”
A caravan of Trump supporters traveled into Portland this weekend where they clashed with protesters. It wasn’t immediately clear if the man who was fatally shot Saturday was related to the confrontations.
Early Sunday, hours after the shooting and clashes between the caravan of Trump supporters and protesters, Trump shared a tweet of his supporters rolling into Portland and declared them, “GREAT PATRIOTS!”
Host Chuck Todd asked Meadows if it was appropriate for Trump to be “cheering on” supporters who are “trying to at least give a visual incentive to create a conflict.”
Meadows pointed to the First Amendment right to peaceably assemble and said to “suggest that in certain cities, that these particular areas are off-limits” is “not who we are as a nation.” And he rejected the criticism that Trump was only asking one side to deescalate the violence.
“You say one side or the other,” Meadows said. “Let me tell you where the president is. The president’s on the side of law enforcement and the rule of law.”
On CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said Trump was “absolutely not” heightening tensions in Portland with his tweet.
Wolf said it was the responsibility of Portland officials “to do their job to address any violent activity that is occurring in their streets.”
Responding to Wolf’s comments, Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., decried the politicization of DHS, “the intelligence community, the military and others who were charged with protecting our homeland.”
Demings wished the president would “send a message for peace and calm” to the protesters and “those who come in and loot and steal and do harm,” as well as “his supporters who have come in and taken the lives of people”
“This is a time, more now than ever, that we need to hear from the president of the United States,” Demings said. “But the chaos and the disorder and the lawlessness that we are currently seeing, that’s Donald Trump’s America.”
Contributing: David Jackson and John Bacon
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