National security adviser blames ‘a few bad apples,’ says there’s not systemic racism in law enforcement

White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien said Sunday a “few bad apples” are to blame for issues of police brutality and denied that there is any systemic racism in U.S. law enforcement agencies. 

“I don’t think there is systemic racism. I think 99.9 percent of our law enforcement officers are great Americans,” O’Brien said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” adding that “many” are African American, Hispanic and Asian.

“I think they’re amazing great Americans, and they are my heroes, but you know what there are some bad apples in there. There are some bad cops that are racist cops, and there are cops that maybe don’t have the right training, and some that are just bad cops and they need to be rooted out,” O’Brien added. 

He said a “few bad apples” are giving law enforcement a “terrible name.” 

He said officers like the “dirty cop that killed George Floyd” need to be rooted out of the system. He did not name Derek Chauvin, the officer charged with murder in connection to Floyd’s death. 

Floyd died in Minneapolis police custody shortly after an officer knelt on his neck during an arrest. Video footage of the arrest shows Floyd telling the officer that he could not breathe. 

Chauvin and three other officers involved in the incident were fired after the video was released. The other officers have not been charged. 

O’Brien also noted reports that Chauvin had a “long record of this conduct.” 

“Where were the local prosecutors and the police commission?” O’Brien said. 

“Why was he still on the force?” he added. 

O’Brien also defended President Trump’s rhetoric responding to the protests that have broken out in response to Floyd’s death. 

CNN’s Jake Tapper asked O’Brien about Trump’s tweets characterizing protestors as “THUGS” that “are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd,” and warning that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” referencing a phrase used by Miami Police Chief Walter Headley in 1967 during the civil rights movement. 

Trump later told reporters he wasn’t aware of the origins of the phrase and that he heard it from “other places.” 

O’Brien said Trump is trying to “stop the violence” taking place, while encouraging peaceful protests. 

Tapper said Trump’s tweets, which also included warnings to protesters outside the White House about “vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons,” is not “calming language.” 

O’Brien responded that the “passion” comes from “the fact that we have great law enforcement officers.” 

He also said that he was on Air Force One with the president when he watched the video of Floyd’s death and said the president was “moved” and “disturbed.” 

Tags COPS Donald Trump George Floyd Institutional racism Jake Tapper Law enforcement in the United States police brutality Robert O’Brien Sunday shows

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