Trump has privately dismissed protesters in talks with aides: report

President Trump’s advisers are reportedly offering competing advice on how to address nationwide protests against racism and police brutality after the death of George Floyd, according to NBC News.

Three sources familiar with White House conversations told NBC that Trump has privately said, “these aren’t my voters” on more than one occasion when discussing protesters and how to respond.

According to NBC, some advisers want Trump to lead changes on policing and to speak out more definitively against racism, while other advisers say he’s not coming down hard enough against protesters.

While Trump has expressed support and condolences for the family of Floyd and condemned the incident, he has not spoken out directly against violence by police at protests and has instead focused on looters, encouraging local law enforcement to “dominate the streets.

A White House official told NBC that the president “doesn’t see the protests as directly about him — which is accurate — it’s a result of decades of racism in our country. So he’s been inclined to only weigh in to the extent he feels he needs to. He doesn’t want to make this ‘Trump versus the protestors,’ more he’s the outsider factor that can bring about law and order.”

In the last few days, Trump has issued some of his strongest comments yet amid widespread calls for police reform.

On Thursday, Trump said that his administration is working on an executive order that will encourage police to meet “professional standards” for the use of force in the line of duty. Trump said the order would encourage police to use “force with compassion.”

And on Friday, Trump said in a Fox News interview that he believes police chokeholds should be ended.

“I think the concept of chokeholds sounds so innocent, so perfect,” Trump said. “With that being said, it would be, I think, a very good thing that generally speaking it should be ended.”

In that interview, Trump also repeated his calls for “law and order” and argued there would always be “bad apples” in the police force.

“We have to work together to confront bigotry and prejudice wherever they appear,” Trump said. “But we’ll make no progress and heal no wounds by falsely labeling tens of millions of decent Americans as racists or bigots. We have to get everybody together. We have to be in the same path. If we don’t do that, we’ll have problems.”

Still, Trump has faced backlash for his handling of protests and his administration’s orders last week to forcibly clear protesters from Lafayette Square, which is adjacent to the White House, using chemical irritants. The White House has said there are “no regrets” about the action. 

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