The Trump campaign is running ads that falsely claim Biden wants to defund the police.
Donald Trump wants voters to believe Joe Biden is simultaneously too tough and too weak on crime.
Last week, the Trump campaign released an ad warning: "You won't be safe in Joe Biden's America." It falsely claims that Biden "stands with" a "radical left-wing mob" that wants to "defund the police."
Biden is in favor of "cutting police funding," the spot charges, along with "eliminating cash bail, letting criminals back on the street, violent crime exploding, innocent children fatally shot." The Washington Post's "Fact Checker" column gives the ad "Four Pinocchios," the rating it uses to indicate "Whoppers."
In an interview with Fox News' Chris Wallace aired on Sunday, Trump again characterized the former vice president as a proponent of lawlessness.
Liberal mayors run cities "poorly, it was always bad but now it's gotten totally out of control and it's really because they want to defund the police," Trump said. "And Biden wants to defund the police."
When Wallace said in response, "No he, sir, he does not," Trump and his staff were unable to back up the claim. Wallace told a Fox News anchor after a preview for the interview, which was recorded on Friday, that Trump requested and was given a copy of the "charter" Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders have created to unite Democrats ahead of the November election. Trump, Wallace said, "couldn't find any indication – because there isn't any – that Joe Biden has sought to defund and abolish the police."
While Biden has called for some police funding to be redirected to other programs, he has explicitly opposed defunding law enforcement. "I support conditioning federal aid to police based on whether or not they meet certain basic standards of decency and honorableness. And, in fact, are able to demonstrate they can protect the community and everybody in the community," he told CBS last month.
But in addition to being false, the framing of Biden as weak on crime flatly contradicts attacks Trump has made on him in other campaign ads and elsewhere.
"Sleepy Joe Biden's 1994 Crime Bill was a total disaster. It was mass incarceration for Black people, many of them innocent," Trump tweeted last month. "Biden can never escape his Crime Bill!"
In May, the Trump campaign began running another ad, posted on YouTube with the title "Joe Biden has destroyed millions of Black American lives," blaming Biden for mass incarceration.
"Joe Biden wrote those laws," the spot's narrator says of polices that put people in jail for "minor offenses." It then features a video of then-Sen. Biden saying, "Every major crime bill that's come out of this Congress has had the name 'Joe Biden' on that bill."
Trump's campaign did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.
Trump's own record on crime has also been contradictory.
As a candidate, he promised "the crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon come to an end. Beginning on January 20th, 2017, safety will be restored." He repeatedly pledged to "drain the swamp" and eliminate government corruption.
Trump frequently claims Republican candidates he endorses are "tough on crime." And in recent days, his Department of Homeland Security sent federal agents into Portland, Oregon, to aggressively crack down on protesters over the objections of local leaders.
But he has also used his powers to shield his own political allies from punishment for their own crimes.
Trump this month commuted the sentence of his associate Roger Stone, convicted on seven charges that included lying to Congress. In May, his Justice Department attempted to have charges dropped against his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, charges to which he had pleaded guilty.
Violations of the Hatch Act by members of Trump's administration continue to go unchecked.
And in August 2017, Trump pardoned former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who had been found guilty of criminal contempt in a case of racial profiling.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.