Trump: Chokeholds sound ‘so innocent’ but ‘generally’ should be ended
President Trump described the concept of chokeholds as “so innocent” in an interview that aired Friday, though he acknowledged that the practice in policing should be ended in most cases.
Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner, who is black, pressed Trump on what policing reforms he would support amid national unrest in response to the death of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Trump, who said he hoped to see “strong but compassionate policing” moving forward, said he doesn’t like chokeholds before going on to defend the practice in certain situations against “tough” and “bad” people.
“I think the concept of chokeholds sounds so innocent, so perfect,” Trump said, explaining that it’s often a matter of physical strength and a case-by-case basis.
“So you have to be careful,” Trump added. “With that being said, it would be, I think, a very good thing that generally speaking it should be ended.”
Trump agreed with Faulkner’s assessment that it was a “sliding scale” to determine when a chokehold is appropriate depending on the circumstances.
“The chokehold thing is good … to talk about,” Trump said, reasoning that the idea of banning them sounds reasonable on the surface.
“But if you’re thinking about it, then you realize maybe there is a bad fight and the officer gets somebody in a position that’s a very tough position,” he added.
The president said the decision on how to deal with chokeholds will in many cases be left up to local jurisdictions, but the federal government could provide recommendations.
Banning chokeholds has become a key issue for lawmakers in the wake of Floyd’s death. The practice has come under scrutiny repeatedly in the wake of similar killings by police in recent years, including in the case of Eric Garner.
A sweeping police reform bill unveiled this week by Democrats in Congress would establish a federal ban on chokeholds, among other things. Republicans in the Senate are working on their own bill, and it’s unclear if it will include a chokehold ban.
Several state and local governments have moved forward in the meantime to outlaw the practice, including in Iowa and Phoenix.
Trump on Thursday said the White House was finalizing an executive order to “encourage police departments nationwide to meet the most current professional standards for the use of force, including tactics for de-escalation.” The president has yet to endorse any legislation on the issue.