By Glenn Kessler / The Washington Post
“Biden publishes 5-point anti-crime plan… 2) abolish the police. “
–Senator Ted Cruz, R-Tex., In a Twitter thread, June 23
“The problem isn’t the guns, nor is it COVID. These are violent riots and the Defund the Police movement, both of which were supported, financially and rhetorically, by Biden’s administrator.
–Representative Jim Banks, R-Ind., In tweet, June 23
In the 2020 election, the Trump campaign desperately tried to claim that Joe Biden was a supporter of the “defund the police” movement advocated by some elements of the Democratic Party. But as we noted, Trump had a problem: Biden firmly rejected calls by left-wing activists to fund police and in fact said he would double funding for a community policing program that would put more money into it. officers in the street.
That hasn’t stopped the Trump campaign or the former president from falsely suggesting otherwise. On our “Bottomless Pinocchio” list, we listed 72 examples of Trump saying Biden would fund the police.
Trump lost the election. But here we are, six months into Biden’s presidency, and Republicans are still making that misrepresentation. Cruz and Banks are two good examples of this effort, although there are many more. Representative Elise Stefanik, RN.Y., for example, said in a tweet that Biden “has gone from funding the police during the campaign to now” paying the police back “,” although his position has not changed.
First, let’s understand what it means to “fund the police”.
It is only in rare cases that Liberal supporters call for the outright elimination of police services. Overall, the promoters want to redirect some funds currently spent on police forces to things like education, public health, housing and youth services. The idea is that low-income communities would become stronger – and less in need of police tactics – if the basic problems were solved.
Under this concept, some police officers would be replaced by trained social workers or specialized response teams with the goal of allowing police to focus on violent crime, not drug overdoses or homelessness. The theory is that the police would be in a better position to deal with rape and murder if they weren’t forced to deal with other social ills that sometimes lead to community confrontations with the police.
We obviously take no position on the matter. But it’s a slogan that can be easily twisted to mean something else; leaving the door wide open to political attacks.
Cruz’s Twitter thread covers a number of elements about the crime, and to his credit, he claims to offer evidence to back up his claims. “These (somewhat pleasant) positions reflect the ACTUAL POLITICAL POSITIONS taken by Biden’s administrator,” Cruz wrote. We focus on his statement about Biden wanting to abolish the police, as it is such a common GOP talking point.
But when you get to the part of his Twitter feed explaining this claim, it doesn’t prove that abolishing the police is an actual political position of the Biden administration. Instead, he cites statements made by two of Biden’s Justice Department appointments before they joined the administration: Kristen Clarke, deputy attorney general for civil rights, and Vanita Gupta, deputy attorney general.
Regular readers may recall that during the fight for confirmation of Gupta’s nomination, we handed him an upside-down Pinocchio for making flip flops recognized over his stance on police funding. But what matters for this fact-checking is his position now; and she made it clear during her confirmation that she supports the policies of the Biden administration and does not support police funding.
Likewise, Banks, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a House GOP caucus, offers little evidence for his claim that the Biden administration “supported, financially and rhetorically” the violent riots and the financing policy. His tweet directed readers to a Fox News opinion piece published under his name.
“There is overwhelming evidence linking the increase in murders to the violent riots of last summer and the Defund the Police movement,” wrote Banks. “Both have been supported, financially and rhetorically, by the Democratic Party and the Biden administration.”
For the word “financially,” the editorial refers to one of our fact-checks – on So-Sen. Kamala Harris in 2020 supporting donations to a bond fund in Minnesota after protests erupted in response to the murder of George Floyd by a police officer. For the word “rhetorically,” the article refers to a comment by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, DN.Y., in June 2020, dismissing a “myth” that the violence in Portland, Ore., Originated from antifa, a decentralized network activists who oppose what they perceive to be racist or fascist.
The last time we checked, Nadler is not in the Biden administration. Harris, of course, is vice president. But her support for the bond fund came in June 2020, before she was the vice-presidential candidate. As we noted in the fact check, the vast majority of those arrested in Minneapolis – 92% – were not required to post any bond. The fund bailed out at least two people accused of attempted murder or burglary during the protests. But there is no evidence that they committed any other crimes after being released.
In other words, Cruz and Banks have no basis for claiming that abolishing the police or supporting the fundraising police movement is a position of the Biden administration.
Indeed, the opposite is true.
In his 2022 fiscal budget, Biden kept his campaign promise and offered to more than double funding for the Community-Based Policing Services (COPS) hiring program. Funds are provided to state and local governments to hire law enforcement officers, thereby inflating the size of police departments. In Trump’s last year, $ 156.5 million was provided for the hiring of COPS, while Biden would increase that amount to $ 388 million, according to Justice Department documents. In fact, Biden would increase funding for all COPS grant programs to $ 651 million, from $ 386 million under Trump.
Additionally, Biden announced on June 23 that he was urging cities with increased crime to dip into funds from his coronavirus relief bill “to hire the officers needed for community policing and pay for their overtime. “. He added that they “can also use the funding to expand wrap-around services for residents, including addiction and mental health services which we know will make a difference in crime prevention.”
A media representative for Banks did not respond to requests for comment. Steve Guest, a spokesperson for Cruz, posted this statement via email:
“Sen. Cruz’s office does not engage in such attempts by corrupt corporate media to bring water to Democrats under the false pretext of a so-called ‘fact check.’ Biden appoints two strong advocates of abolishing the police to leadership positions at the Justice Department – and when Democratic cities across the country cut funding for policing – Biden’s administrator doesn’t claim to be on both sides of the problem (no matter how much the Washington Post wants to help them do it).
Republicans continue to try to label Biden as part of the fundraising police movement. But this is simply not true. The fragility of the accusation is demonstrated by the paucity of evidence lawmakers gather when making their hyperbolic claims.
The reality is this: Biden wants to increase federal funding to allow the hiring of more police officers. He said this during the campaign and then kept that commitment in his original budget proposal. The president defines the policies of his administration; and he’s been quite consistent.
On a scale of one to four, Cruz and Banks win four Pinocchios (whoppers).
Glenn Kessler has reported on domestic and foreign policy for more than three decades. Send her statements to verify the facts by emailing her, tweeting her @GlennKesslerWP, or messaging her on Facebook.