Joe Biden said that President Trump’s action to send federal law enforcement officers to cities and those tasked with protecting the federal courthouse targeted by rioters in Portland is part of a strategy for the president to try to revive a political campaign.
Biden asserted that Trump, in order to help his political interests, is “determined to stoke division and chaos” by sending federal law enforcement officers to the site of violent unrest. “It’s not good for the country,” Biden said Tuesday, adding that Trump is turning the Department of Homeland Security “into a private militia.”
“His campaign is failing, and he’s looking for a political lifeline. This isn’t about law and order. It’s about a strategy to revive a failing campaign,” Biden added.
The former vice president and the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said that the violent protesters should be held accountable under the law but that task was not the responsibility of the federal government.
“There’s no place for violence or destruction of property. Peaceful protesters should be protected, and arsonists and anarchists should be prosecuted. And local law enforcement can do that,” Biden said.
He said that the Obama administration was able to protect federal property without using federal officers.
The critiques of Trump came during Biden’s remarks from Delaware on his “Build Back Better” economic recovery plan.
Federal law enforcement, including officers from the Department of Homeland Security, has been at the center of heated political discussion after being sent to Portland, Oregon, to protect a federal courthouse targeted by violent protesters. Critics say that peaceful protesters are being harmed by the officers and that their presence is escalating tensions between law enforcement and demonstrators.
The Department of Justice announced Monday that officers arrested 74 people in Portland and charged 60 of those with crimes. Nationally, 326 have been arrested and 238 charged in relation to “civil unrest” taking place across the country.
Trump lags Biden in national polls by 9 points, according to the RealClearPolitics average of recent polls and also in key swing states.
Asked how he would address a similar situation if he were president, Biden said: “I’m using local police as we did when we were in office, when there were riots or federal property stake.”
Biden criticized a political ad from Trump’s campaign that asserts Biden wants to defund police despite Biden and his campaign saying the opposite, and which shows a phone at a 911 call center ringing off the hook.
“I mean, come on. That is all about trying to come up with a bizarre law-and-order, 2020 ad campaign thing just try to scare the devil out of the American people,” Biden said.
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