US President Trump defends police, slams protests as ‘domestic terror’

President Donald Trump on Tuesday offered a stout defence of law enforcement officers during a controversial tour of Kenosha in Wisconsin, the newest flashpoint in anti-racism unrest, and further sharpened his attack on violence accompanying protests calling them acts of “domestic terror”.

“These are not acts of peaceful protest, but really domestic terror,” President Trump said at a roundtable with officials and lawmakers after a tour of areas damaged in the violence that erupted a week ago after Jacob Blake, a black man, was shot repeatedly in the back by a white police officer. Two protestors were killed days later allegedly by a 17-year-old man.

The President was accompanied by top federal law enforcement officials such as Attorney General William Barr and Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, and local sheriff and officials. But not by the state governor and mayor, who had urged Trump to stay away.

“We cherish our law enforcement,” the US president said, offering his administration’s full backing to police officers and federal agents, who have come under criticism for using excessive force. He acknowledged there were some “bad apples” among them, who, he said, seemingly downplaying their actions, have erred under pressure.

The President has used the word “choke” for them. “You have people that choke,” he said, adding, “They’re under tremendous pressure.” They will be “taken care of” but the rest of them had his support. And he will never allow them to be de-funded as anti-racism activists have demanded.

Trump has shaped his re-election plank around law-and-order, and has tried to tie the violence accompanying anti-racism protests to Democrats and their presidential nominee Joe Biden. He has used phrases like “left wing politicians” and “radical left Democrats” for the protestors and their supporters to argue there will be more of this lawlessness and chaos if Biden was elected president.

Biden has countered by holding Trump responsible for the unrest, as a “toxic presence”. But the Democrat has also sought to distance himself from the violence by condemning it in clear terms to blunt Trump’s attacks, and his campaign has planned a major ad blitz to further amplify that message.

In a potentially damaging development for the Trump re-election campaign, first lady, Melania Trump, is reported to have used private email accounts and messaging services for official communication. Winston Wolkoff, a former close friend and senior adviser, told The Washington Post, “Melania and I both didn’t use White House emails”.

While the use of private email accounts is allowed under presidential records laws, Trump and Republicans had attacked Hillary Clinton in 2016 for using a private email account as secretary of state.

And, Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker and the top Democrat in the country, came under fire for allegedly violating social distancing norms in place for the Covid-19 epidemic, during a visit to a salon. She had her mask around the neck, in a surveillance footage that aired on some channels.

“Speaker Pelosi has pushed policies that would keep our economy closed and our small businesses shut down. But for herself?” Senate Republicans, the twitter handle of the senate Republicans caucus, wrote in a post. “A salon visit whenever she pleases.”

US President Trump defends police, slams protests as ‘domestic terror’