By Associated Press
• In a Republican National Committee email Wednesday from Steve Guest, RNC’s rapid response director, it’s stated that, “In the wake of rioting, looting, and tragic murders ripping apart communities across the country, Joe Biden said ‘Yes, absolutely’ he wants to defund the police.”
That’s misleading, and includes a selective use of Biden’s words on the subject.
The email links to an excerpted video of Biden’s conversation with activist Ady Barkan, who endorsed Biden on Wednesday after supporting Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont during the Democratic primaries. A full recording of that conversation provided by the Biden campaign to the Associated Press shows he once again declined to support defunding police.
Barkan raises the issue of police reform and asks whether Biden would funnel money into social services, mental-health counseling and affordable housing to help reduce civilian interactions with police.
Biden responds that he is calling for more money for mental-health providers but “that’s not the same as getting rid of or defunding all the police” and that both approaches are needed, including additional dollars for community police.
Asked again by Barkan, “So we agree that we can redirect some of the funding?” Biden then answers, “Absolutely, yes.”
Biden then gives the caveat that he means “not just redirect” federal money potentially but “condition” it on police improvements.
“If they don’t eliminate chokeholds, they don’t get [federal] grants; if they don’t do the following, they don’t get any help,” Biden replied.
“The vast majority of all police departments are funded by the locality, funded by the municipality, funded by the state,” he added. “It’s only the federal government comes in on top of that, and so it says you want help, you have to do the following reforms.”
• Biden, speaking Wednesday of the rise in U.S. coronavirus infections to more than 3 million, said, “President Trump claimed to the American people that he was a wartime leader, but instead of taking responsibility, Trump has waved a white flag, revealing that he ordered the slowing of testing and having his administration tell Americans that they simply need to ‘live with it.’ ’’
There is no evidence that the government did slow testing on the orders of the president.
Trump told a Tulsa, Okla., rally on June 20 that he said “to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please’ ” because “they test and they test.” Trade adviser Peter Navarro and White House press secretary, among other Trump aides and allies, quickly mounted the defense that Trump had been speaking in a tongue-in-cheek manner at the Tulsa rally. But Trump went on to contradict that line of defense, saying, “I don’t kid.”
In any event, a succession of his public health officials testified to Congress that the president never asked them to slow testing and that they were doing all they could to increase it. But testing remains markedly insufficient.
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