WASHINGTON — A day after violent clashes erupted between Trump supporters and protesters in Portland, Oregon, leading to the fatal shooting of one supporter, the president on Sunday said “the big backlash” cannot be “unexpected,” as he continued to blame Democrats for the unrest.
Democrats meanwhile argued on the Sunday morning political talk show circuit that President Donald Trump was encouraging violence through his rhetoric, and they condemned him for not denouncing the fatal shootings of two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last week by Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old Trump supporter.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield, appearing on "Fox News Sunday," said that Trump has failed to use his position to be a “uniter” and accused the president of “trying to incite violence this entire summer.”
“He’s had every opportunity to speak as a leader to this nation, to speak to people who are in trouble but also people who are looking around and are afraid, who see chaos,” Bedingfield said. “He has encouraged his supporters to go out, to be aggressive."
On Sunday morning, the president retweeted a video showing a caravan of his supporters riding through downtown Portland, with his supporters seen unloading pepper spray at liberal protesters on the streets.
“The big backlash going on in Portland cannot be unexpected after 95 days of watching [an] incompetent Mayor admit that he has no idea what he is doing,” Trump tweeted. “The people of Portland won’t put up with no safety any longer. The Mayor is a FOOL. Bring in the National Guard!”
Biden issued a campaign statement asserting that Trump is “recklessly encouraging violence,” and called for the country to “condemn the incitement of hate and resentment that led to this deadly clash.”
“The job of a President is to lower the temperature,” Biden said. “To bring people who disagree with one another together.”
Bedingfield argued that Trump viewed the violence as a boon to his campaign, pointing to remarks by Kellyanne Conway, outgoing counselor to the president, who told Fox News last week that “the more chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence reigns, the better it is” for the president's reelection chances.
“He has at every opportunity tried to fan the flames here and that is the reason we are living in Donald Trump’s America,” Bedingfield said. “He is trying to make an argument about Joe Biden’s America pointing to things that are happening in Donald Trump’s America.”
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows countered on NBC’s “Meet the Press" that “most of Donald Trump's America is peaceful,” and pushed back when asked by show host Chuck Todd whether the president should call for a de-escalation of tensions from both sides.
“Let me tell you where the president is. The president's on the side of law enforcement and the rule of law. And he's been very consistent in that,” Meadows said.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, appearing on ABC’s “This Week” said, “Across the ideological spectrum, left or right, the violence needs to end.”
Wolf, asked if the federal government was prepared to deploy federal law enforcement officers to respond to protesters, said “all options were on the table.” Local officials have refused federal intervention arguing in part that it would further escalate tensions.
“Once you cross the line to violence, that is what’s concerning to the Department of Homeland Security,” Wolf said. “That’s what I’m focused on, making sure that we bring any type of violence in any of our cities to a close.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), in an interview with “This Week,” said the violence at protests was playing out under “Donald Trump’s watch” and pushed back on the Trump campaign’s assertions that Biden was slow to condemn the violence.
“I have long condemned looting, violence, threats,” Klobuchar said. “That's not peaceful protests. And I don't care who's engaging in it, you condemn it. And, of course, Joe Biden has clearly condemned it.”
Trump is scheduled to visit Kenosha on Tuesday following days of violent protests in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake, 29, who was left partially paralyzed after being shot seven times in the back.
Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing the Blake family, told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that the family had not been contacted by Trump, but did speak “for about an hour” with Biden and his vice presidential running mate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).
“The Blake family is very respectful of all our elected officials and as his mother says, she prays for all of our elected officials,” Crump said.
Lara Trump, the president's daughter-in-law who also serves as a campaign adviser, told "Fox News Sunday" that Trump was visiting Kenosha "because he cares about every single American in this country."
Asked if he planned to meet or speak with the Blake family she responded: "I don’t know for sure if that’s on the agenda.”