Sanders tried to justify Trump saying nothing about police shootings of black men. It made no sense.

But Trump is happy to weigh in when he can demonize immigrants.


During a White House briefing on Wednesday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders brushed off a question about whether President Trump has anything to say about news that two white Baton Rouge police officers who shot and killed a black man named Alton Sterling while he was pinned down will not be charged.

“Certainly a terrible incident, ah, this is something that is a local matter and something that we feel should be left up to the local authorities at this point in time,” Sanders said. “Certainly we want to make sure that all law enforcement is carrying out the letter of the law. The president is very supportive of law enforcement, but at the same time, in these specific cases in these specific instances those would be left up to local authorities to make that determination, and not something for the federal government to weigh into.”

Reporter April Ryan followed up by asking Sanders if Trump has anything to say about Eric Garner, a black man who was killed by New York City police officers in 2014. But Sanders indicated Trump isn’t particularly interested in that case either.

“Once again, these would be local matters that should be left up to the local authorities,” she said.

Later, NBC’s Kristen Welker pressed Sanders on her characterization of police killings of black people as “local matters,” pointing out that “this seems to be an issue that the entire country is grappling with — these tensions between communities of color.”

“Does the president not need to show leadership on these issues?” Welker asked.

Sanders responded by quickly changing the topic to how Trump wants to “grow the economy for everybody.” Welker, however, followed up by trying to pin Sanders down on the underlying racial issue.


“But there are a lot of African American moms all across the country feeling as though their sons are dying, so doesn’t the president feel like he needs to do something about that?” Welker said.

Sanders again changed the topic as quickly as possible, this time to Trump’s plan to keep kids safe by militarizing schools.

“We look for ways to protect the individuals in this country, particularly children, that’s why you’ve seen the president take an active over the last several months in school safety,” she said.

Sanders’ comment about Trump believing it’s inappropriate for the administration to weigh in on local law enforcement issues is belied by his recent tweets about Kate Steinle, a woman who was killed by an undocumented immigrant in San Francisco in 2015.


In November and December, Trump posted angry tweets attacking a jury for acquitting the immigrant who was charged with murder and involuntary manslaughter in connection with her death.

It goes beyond Steinle. Continuing a trend that began while he was on the campaign trail, since taking office Trump has repeatedly weighed in on local law enforcement issues.


A month after the inauguration, Trump alluded to possibly using the federal government to suppress gun violence in Chicago.

And beyond Steinle, Trump has used his pulpit to highlight tragedies he can use to demonize immigrants.

Not only has Trump shown minimal empathy for victims of police violence, but he’s publicly expressed his approval for the types of police practices that have resulted in the deaths of unarmed black men.

During a speech to police officers last July, Trump encouraged cops to get “rough” when they toss people into a squad car — the same type of behavior that resulted in the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore in 2015.

Sanders’ comments on Wednesday weren’t even the first time the Trump administration dismissed a question about police violence against a black man during a press briefing this week. On Monday, deputy press secretary Raj Shah indicated that President Trump has nothing at all to say about Stephon Clark, a black man who was gunned down by Sacramento police on March 20 when they mistook his cell phone for a gun.

“I’m not aware of any comments that he has,” Shah said. “I haven’t asked him about that directly. Obviously the president cares about any individual who would be harmed through no fault of their own.”