Trump calls Ahmaud Arbery killing 'very disturbing' but says he trusts Georgia justice


WASHINGTON — President Trump said Friday he had watched the video of Ahmaud Arbery being shot and found it “very disturbing” and “heartbreaking,” but he is confident the Georgia legal system will come down on the side of justice.

Local prosecutors said this week, after the video surfaced, that they would bring the two-month-old case to a grand jury.

In a phone interview on Fox News Friday morning, Trump said Arbery’s death on Feb. 23 in Brunswick, Ga., was “a very disturbing situation to me.” He did not comment on the outrage that has been sparked by the release of the video, showing Arbery, a 25-year-old black man who was unarmed, stopped in the middle of a road by two white men, a father and son, before he was shot to death.

The men, Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis McMichael, 34, have been charged with murder.

The president did note that he had seen a photo of Arbery wearing a tuxedo. “I will say that that looks like a really good young guy,” he said of Arbery. “It’s a very disturbing situation to me, and my heart goes out to the parents and the families and the friends. But yet we have to take it — you know, law enforcement’s going to take it, and they have a really good governor in the state — a very good governor, actually — and he’s going to be looking at it very strongly, and he’s going to do what’s right.”

Ahmaud Arbery was killed Feb. 23 outside Brunswick, Ga., in Glynn County. (Family handout)
Ahmaud Arbery was killed Feb. 23 outside Brunswick, Ga. (Family handout)

“But it’s a heartbreaking thing. It was very rough. Rough stuff,” Trump said.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said Thursday that he had watched the video earlier in the week and had immediately afterward assigned the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to get involved.

When Fox News personality Brian Kilmeade asked about the potential for unrest, Trump said that “justice getting done is the thing that solves that problem.”

“Again, it’s in the hands of the governor. I’m sure he’ll do the right thing,” the president said.

Trump did not mention the racial aspect of the killing, which has been compared to a lynching and has sparked renewed protests over apparently unprovoked killings of young black men by police, vigilantes or white citizens who said they felt threatened.

This photo combo of images taken Thursday, May 7, 2020, and provided by the Glynn County Detention Center, in Georgia, show Gregory McMichael, left, and his son Travis McMichael. The two have been charged with murder in the February shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, whom they had pursued in a truck after spotting him running in their neighborhood. (Glynn County Detention Center via AP)
Gregory McMichael and his son Travis McMichael. (Glynn County Detention Center via AP)

Rather, Trump implied that there were reasons to wonder if there was more to the story. “It could be something that we didn’t see on tape. Things went off tape and then back on tape,” he said.

Trump ended by praising law enforcement in Georgia.

“They have very good law enforcement in the state of Georgia, and I’m sure they’re going to come up with exactly what happened. It’s a sad thing, very sad thing. Hate to see that,” he said.

Cover thumbnail photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images


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