National security adviser defends Trump tweets: The president 'wants to de-escalate violence'

National security adviser Robert O’Brien on Sunday defended President TrumpDonald John TrumpDavis: Supreme Court decision is bad news for Trump, good news for Vance Meadows trying to root out suspected White House leakers by feeding them info: Axios Pressley hits DeVos over reopening schools: 'I wouldn't trust you to care for a house plant let alone my child' MORE’s tweets labeling violent protesters as thugs and saying that looting leads to shooting amid demonstrations over the death of George Floyd, saying the president “wants to de-escalate violence.”

O’Brien said ABC’s “This Week” that the Trump administration is “with the peaceful protesters who are demanding answers” into the death of Floyd, who died after being detained by a Minneapolis police officer who put his knee on Floyd's neck. O'Brien said the president wanted to discourage violence during the demonstrations with his looting tweet. 

“I think what he said about those tweets is he wants to de-escalate violence and he doesn’t want looting,” he told ABC’s George StephanopoulosGeorge Robert StephanopoulosChris Christie: I wouldn't have commuted Roger Stone sentence CDC won't revise school opening guidelines after Trump criticism Pelosi: Nationwide mask mandate 'definitely long overdue' MORE.

O’Brien said he wants to distinguish between “violent rioters,” which he said included members of the left-wing group Antifa, and “peaceful protesters that have every right to go out to the streets.” He said the rioters are “targeting” the most vulnerable areas and minority sections of cities.

“The president’s outraged by that, and we all are,” he said. “And that has to stop.” 

O'Brien also said he wanted to call attention to the “big distinction” between the U.S. and its “foreign adversaries," noting former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd's death, will “be investigated, and he'll be prosecuted, and he's going to receive a fair trial" while  peaceful protesters will not be "thrown in jail."


Floyd’s death has sparked outrage in cities across the country, leading to protests that in some places, including Minneapolis, have turned violent. 

Trump has blamed the violence on the “Radical Left” and “thugs” in his tweets. In a controversial Friday tweet, Trump asserted that “looting leads to shooting” but later pushed back on claims that he was inciting violence.