As “defund the police” has become a rallying cry for protestors, with activists and some politicians looking to build on a wave of support for the movement, President Trump has in recent days rejected the idea — and tried to turn it to his political advantage as he seeks to portray himself as the candidate of “LAW & ORDER!” in his reelection campaign against former Vice President Joe Biden.
"There won't be defunding, there won't be dismantling of our police and there is not going to be any disbanding of our police. Our police have been letting us live in peace, and we want to make sure we don’t have any bad actors in there," Trump said Monday afternoon at a White House event with law enforcement officers.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters earlier in the day that "the president is appalled by the defund the police movement," including vows from the mayors of New York and Los Angeles to cut police budgets and reallocate the money to social services. In Minneapolis, where the killing of George Floyd in police custody sparked massive nationwide protests, most of the city council has pledged to 'begin the process of ending' the police department.
On Sunday, Trump tweeted: "Sleepy Joe Biden and the Radical Left Democrats want to 'DEFUND THE POLICE'. I want great and well paid LAW ENFORCEMENT. I want LAW & ORDER!"
Biden’s campaign said Monday he also opposes calls to defund the police. “As his criminal justice proposal made clear months ago, Vice President Biden does not believe that police should be defunded,” Biden spokesman Andrew Bates told reporters Monday. "Biden supports the urgent need for reform — including funding for public schools, summer programs, and mental health and substance abuse treatment separate from funding for policing — so that officers can focus on the job of policing."
The Trump campaign attacked Biden for not commenting on the matter himself. “As the protesters like to say, silence is agreement,” Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said on a conference call with reporters. “By his silence Joe Biden is endorsing defunding the police.”
The bottom line: Congressional Democrats unveiled broad legislation to reform police departments, but the party has stopped well short of embracing calls for defunding. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday that those decisions fall to local governments.