President Donald Trump on Monday likened police officers who commit acts of brutality to golfers who “choke” and miss a 3-foot putt, resisting the real-time efforts of a conservative cable news ally to steer him away from the comparison.
The remarks from the president came in an interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham, during which Trump lamented how law enforcement officers are “under siege” in the United States amid new scrutiny of racial injustice in policing.
“They can do 10,000 great acts, which is what they do, and one bad apple or a choker — you know, a choker. They choke,” Trump said, apparently making reference to the shooting of Jacob Blake by police in Kenosha, Wis.
Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot in the back seven times by a white police officer on Aug. 23 as he leaned into his car. Three of Blake’s children were reportedly in the back seat of his SUV when their father was shot.
Blake survived the shooting, but family members have said he is paralyzed from the waist down.
“Shooting the guy in the back many times. I mean, couldn’t you have done something different? Couldn’t you have wrestled him?” Trump said Monday. “You know, I mean, in the meantime, he might’ve been going for a weapon. And, you know, there’s a whole big thing there.”
It was not clear whether Trump was specifically discussing Blake’s shooting or advancing unfounded speculation about the role of a weapon in that case.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice reported last week that its investigators “recovered a knife from the driver’s side floorboard” in Blake’s vehicle. But law enforcement have not said the knife or any other weapon was used in Blake’s encounter with police.
Nevertheless, Trump proceeded Monday to say of police officers: “They choke just like in a golf tournament. They miss a 3-foot putt.”
It was then that Ingraham interjected, telling the president: “You’re not comparing it to golf, because of course that’s what the media would say.”
“I’m saying people choke. People choke,” Trump responded. “And people are bad people. You have both. You have some bad people and you have — they choke.”
Trump’s comments are in keeping with other broad defenses of law enforcement he has issued this summer as the country has struggled with a racial reckoning sparked by the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in May.
“We must remember that the overwhelming majority of police officers in this country — and that’s the overwhelming majority — are noble, courageous, and honorable,” Trump said in his Republican National Convention acceptance speech last week. “We have to give law enforcement, our police, back their power.”
The president echoed that rhetoric Monday, expressing sympathy for long-tenured police who respond disproportionately to perceived threats when they have a “quarter-of-a-second to make a decision.”
“If you don’t make the decision, and you’re wrong, you’re dead. People choke under those circumstances, and they make a bad decision. I’ve seen bad decisions of people that it looked bad, but probably it was a choke,” Trump said.
“But you also have bad police,” he added. “But you also — the vast, not only the vast majority — thousands and thousands of great acts and one bad one, and you make the evening news for weeks.”