GOPers Punt To Blaming Local Officials As Trump Praises Supporters In Portland Clash

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speaks to members of the press outside the West Wing of the White House on August 28, 2020. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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August 30, 2020 5:59 p.m.

Republicans on Sunday wouldn’t condemn President Trump’s praise for his supporters involved in a violent clash with Black Lives Matter protesters in Portland, Oregon, but instead shifted blame to local officials.

On Friday, Portland mayor Ted Wheeler wrote in a letter to Trump “no thanks” after the President said that he offered aid to Portland by sending federal law enforcement into the city to quell unrest amid ongoing protests against police brutality.

The next day, Trump supporters descended upon Portland and violently clashed with Black Lives Matter protesters, which resulted in the fatal shooting of one person.

In Sunday morning tweets, the President appeared to only condemn Black Lives Matter protesters. In one tweet, Trump tweeted a video of his supporters driving into Portland and called them “GREAT PATRIOTS.” In another tweet, Trump called Wheeler a “FOOL” and called for the deployment of the National Guard in Portland.

Trump later continued airing his grievances towards Wheeler in a series of tweets on Sunday afternoon, which also included a jab at Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who issued a statement shortly before the President’s latest tweets that condemned “violence of every kind by anyone, whether on the left or the right” and that he “challenges” Trump to do the same.

Republicans echoed Trump’s sentiments during Sunday morning interviews.

Here’s how they weighed in on the unrest in Portland:

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows

After insisting that “most of Donald Trump’s America is peaceful,” Meadows railed against the “Democrat-led city” of Portland after its mayor denied the assistance of federal law enforcement, during an interview on MSNBC’s “Meet the Press.”

When asked whether the President believes he has responsibility of governing and leading the entire country, Meadows continued going after Portland’s mayor.

“Well he does govern and lead the entire country but, Chuck, you’re smarter than that. These are local law enforcement efforts that can be supported by a federal backstop, whether it be National Guard or the FBI,” Meadows said. “And so when we look at that as we look in Portland, it’s not Donald Trump’s DA that’s saying to stand down, it’s not Donald Trump that is saying that we need to look the other way, it’s the mayor of Portland. So let’s at least have a true version of what’s happening in these cities.”

Acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf

During an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Wolf was asked whether the Trump administration will request that everyone, including the Trump supporters involved in the violent clashes in Portland, to pull back.

“Well, we’ve been asking Portland to do their job really for over three months now. What you see in Portland is an environment — they foster an environment of this lawlessness and chaos,” Wolf said. “We’ve been asking the governor and others to send in the National Guard to address the violence so that you don’t have dueling demonstrations.”

After saying that local officials need to “do their job,” Wolf was pressed on Trump hailing his supporters who descended upon Portland as “GREAT PATRIOTS” and whether he thinks that the President’s praise heightens tensions further.

“Absolutely not,” Wolf said. “I think what — again, what we see in Portland and various other cities is local officials not doing their job and protecting the people of those communities.”

 

Trump campaign senior adviser Lara Trump

Although she didn’t directly address the unrest in Portland during an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Trump went after “Democrat-run cities” where “the people that are in charge, the mayors of these cities have let their citizens down.”

“They have not upheld the laws. They have not protected their citizens. They have not protected small businesses,” Trump said.

Trump went on to rip Democratic mayors for “playing politics instead of looking out for the safety of their citizens” and suggested for them to “look to this and say, hey, the President has offered all of us this opportunity and they should take it.”

Trump later slammed Biden in the interview for supposedly taking three months to condemn the violence that erupted during protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death in late May, which Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield wasted no time in fact-checking during her interview on “Fox News Sunday” that aired right after Trump’s.

 

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI)

When asked to respond to Trump’s Sunday morning tweets that appeared to “inflame tensions” following clashes in Portland during an interview on CNN, Johnson dodged by saying that he is personally “urging calm across the board” and that “we need to get control of the situation.”

A heated exchange between Johnson and CNN’s Dana Bash ensued as she repeatedly pressed him on Trump’s tweets, which didn’t condemn his supporters’ involvement in the violent clashes that broke out in Portland.

Johnson replied by asserting that “there are people agitating all over the place” and pointed out that Trump “responded immediately” to the violence that erupted in Kenosha, after Rep. Bryan Steil (R-WI) called him and requested assistance from federal law enforcement.

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