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President Donald Trump described the killing of a left-wing activist and murder suspect shot dead by US Marshals as “retribution,” in an interview with Fox News.
In the interview with host Jeanine Pirro, on Saturday, Trump discussed the September 3 death of Michael Reinoehl, who was shot dead by US Marshals in Portland, Oregon.
Reinoehl had expressed support for the left-wing antifa and Black Lives Matter and was a suspect in the fatal shooting of far-right activist Aaron Danielson in an August 29 protest in the city, where rival groups of demonstrators clashed.
In the interview, Trump remarked: “This guy was a violent criminal, and the US Marshals killed him. And I’ll tell you something — that’s the way it has to be. There has to be retribution.”
Critics have accused the president of cheering extrajudicial violence by law enforcement.
Especially frightening now that Trump said the US Marshalls killing someone during an arrest (without an arrest) is “the way it has to be” and “retribution”. https://t.co/pQ77N4FAy9
— Taniel (@Taniel) September 13, 2020
Reinoehl’s death is coming under increasing scrutiny, with one witness to his killing outside an apartment complex in Lacey, Washington, telling media outlets including The Washington Post that police did not try and arrest him. They issued no commands to Reinoehl before opening fire.
Officers from the fugitive dispatch team sent to arrest Reinoehl said that he pulled a gun on them, a claim backed by two witnesses, according to the Post.
The White House and Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on criticism of Trump’s remarks.
Trump has seized on the killing of Danielson in his bid to portray most anti-racism demonstrators as radicals and violent extremists, who he has pledged to subdue with tough “law and order” policies.
The president has positioned himself as the last bulwark against the forces of violent anarchism the center of his presidential re-election campaign.
Danielson’s is one of a series of violent incidents in recent clashes between BLM protesters and pro-Trump counter-protesters.
In interviews, the president has controversially refused to condemn Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old right-wing militia member who police accused of shooting dead two men in Kenosha, Wisconsin, during unrest in the city in late August.
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