WH: Trump Was ‘Making A Joke’ When He Endorsed Police Abuse In Speech

President Donald Trump points to the crowd after speaking to law enforcement officials on the street gang MS-13, Friday, July 28, 2017, in Brentwood, N.Y. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday that President Donald Trump was just joking last week when he advocated police abuse during an address focused on gang violence by undocumented immigrants in Long Island.

“When the President made his speech to police officers on Friday, almost within minutes statements came from police chiefs across the country criticizing his remarks that seemed to endorse the use of force by police in certain arrests,” Newsmax’s John Gizzi said Monday during a press briefing. “Was the President joking when he said this or did he check his remarks out with the international association of police chiefs or maybe the attorney general?”

“I believe he was making a joke at the time,” Sanders said, before moving on.

Gizzi appeared to be referencing a passage from Trump’s speech to law enforcement officers last week in Brentwood, New York, which left police departments nationwide cleaning up after the President.

Discussing the gang MS13, Trump celebrated seeing “these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just see them thrown in, rough.”

“I said, please don’t be too nice,” he added.

For many, the comment immediately brought to mind Freddie Gray, who died in the custody of Baltimore Police in 2015.

“When you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over,” Trump continued, mimicking an officer protecting a handcuffed person’s head while lowering them into the back of a squad car. “Like, don’t hit their head and they’ve just killed somebody? Don’t hit their head?”

“I said, you can take the hand away, OK?” he concluded, to laughter and applause.

Police departments nationwide distanced themselves from the remarks.

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

Sincerely,
TPM Staff
Latest Livewire
Comments
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Reporters:
Newswriters:
Director of Audience:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: