Trump's press secretary criticises AOC and says president 'appalled' by 'defund the police' movement

'No, he doesn't agree with that. And the rest of America doesn't agree with that,' Trump spox said of the notion of cutting number of police officers or their budgets

John T. Bennett
Washington Bureau Chief
Monday 08 June 2020 20:28
Virginia police department investigating officer for tasering unarmed man

Donald Trump is "appalled" by activists and some Democratic lawmakers calling to "defund" police departments in the wake of George Floyd's killing, with the president top spokeswoman criticising Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over the matter.

"The fact that you have sitting congresswomen wanting to defund the police ... it is extraordinary. When you think the left has gone far, and they want to go farther," White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Monday. "You will have chaos, crime and anarchy."

After Democrats rolled out a police reform bill earlier in the day, Ms McEnany said Mr Trump is "looking at" a number of possible proposals to stop the pattern of black people dying in police custody.

"No, he doesn't agree with that. And the rest of America doesn't agree with that," she said of the notion of cutting the number of police officers or their budgets.

After Ms McEnany identified her as a "Biden adviser," Ms Ocasio-Cortez opted to push back on that rather than defend calls to "defund the police."

"The @PressSec comment is steeped in a long, hurtful, & horrendous history of stripping women of color of titles and diminishing them to 'the help,'" she tweeted. "Perhaps she isn't aware that what she did is mired in racist history. If that is the case, I look forward to her apology tomorrow."

Senior House and Senate Democrats have not condemned the movement, which sprouted around more protests over the weekend following Mr Floyd's death.

Notably, the top White House spokeswoman would not declare clearly that the president intends to present a police reform package.

Ms McEnany accused the activists and some Democrats proposing "rolling back the protective layer that protects Americans in their homes and businesses."

As Mr Trump's poll numbers have worsened, some political strategists say the "defund the police" movement might give him a chance to win back support from suburban voters, especially mothers.

When asked if the president is "sorry" for chaos yards from the White House last Monday that included "pepper balls" and tear gas used by federal officers at protesters, Ms McEnany said he is not. "That's not peaceful," she said, accusing some of the protesters of throwing things at officers, ignoring "three loud warnings" that they would need to leave H Street NW, and knocking down the shield of one officer. Ms McEnany also accused some protesters of breaking DC sidewalks and throwing concrete at federal officers.

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