Since entering office, Donald Trump has urged police to be “rough” with suspects, given aid and comfort to neo-Nazis and other white supremacists, and suggested that the military should commit war crimes against Muslims. Coming from the president, words matter.
On July 28, 2017, in a speech to police officers, Trump openly encouraged police to be “rough” with people they arrest:
And when you see these towns and when you see 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. (Laughter.) Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over? 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, okay?This speech was widely understood, including by police chiefs nationwide, as endorsing police brutality—that is, encouraging police to cause bodily harm to arrested persons and violate their constitutional rights. Furthermore, since statements by the president can establish executive branch policy, it also implies that the Department of Justice will, at a minimum, deprioritize enforcement of laws protecting the citizenry from police misconduct. Indeed, the Department of Justice appears to have done just that, by taking steps to end its investigations of, and remedial support for, local police departments with a history of police misconduct.
On August 12, 2017, Trump gave a statement after the white supremacist rallies and terrorist attack in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which one woman was killed and more than fifty people were injured at the hands of a self-proclaimed white nationalist. Trump criticized violence “on many sides, on many sides,” thus equating violent white supremacists with counterprotesters.
On August 15, he insisted that there were “very fine people” among the marching white supremacists.
On August 22, the president publicly bemoaned the firing of a CNN commentator for tweeting the Nazi salute “sieg heil.”
This pattern of statements has been widely understood, particularly by the white supremacists and neo-Nazis themselves, as an expression of support for white supremacist views.
On August 17, the president tweeted: “Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!” The president was almost certainly repeating an internet urban legend that he had recited during the presidential campaign:
They were having terrorism problems, just like we do. And he caught 50 terrorists who did tremendous damage and killed many people. And he took the 50 terrorists, and he took 50 men and he dipped 50 bullets in pigs’ blood—you heard that, right? He took 50 bullets, and he dipped them in pigs’ blood. And he had his men load his rifles, and he lined up the 50 people, and they shot 49 of those people. And the 50th person, he said: You go back to your people, and you tell them what happened. And for 25 years, there wasn’t a problem. Okay? 25 years, there wasn’t a problem. ... [mehr] https://lithub.com/the-case-for-impeaching-donald-trump-part-6/
From The Constitution Demands It: The Case for the Impeachment of Donald Trump. Used with permission of Melville House. Copyright © 2018 by Ron Fein, John Bonifaz, and Ben Clements.