President Trump spent much of Sunday morning sharing and responding to more than 80 Twitter posts, many of them about the deadly shooting in Portland, Ore., the night before.
“Wheeler is incompetent, much like Sleepy Joe Biden,” Trump said of Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, connecting the incident to the Democratic presidential nominee.
“LAW & ORDER!!” Trump tweeted later.
One unidentified person was killed in the Saturday night shooting, and police are seeking more information about the incident. It occurred at the same time as clashes between Trump’s supporters and protesters in the city streets.
The Associated Press reported that its freelance photographer on the scene said the victim “was wearing a hat bearing the insignia of Patriot Prayer, a right-wing group whose members have frequently clashed with protesters in Portland in the past.” The founder of Patriot Prayer confirmed Sunday that the victim was a member but did not identify him.
In his Sunday tweetstorm, Trump proclaimed that a caravan of his supporters heading into Portland on Saturday was filled with “GREAT PATRIOTS!” His tweets also touched on a range of topics, including college football and his poll numbers.
But it was Wheeler who received much of Trump’s attention, and he repeatedly noted that the Democratic mayor had recently written a letter to him turning down federal law enforcement assistance.
Portland, the largest city in Oregon, has seen nightly protests for more than three months. The city’s downtown federal courthouse has been at the epicenter of the demonstrations, some of which have ended in violence and vandalism, and sparked national debate over the legal authority of federal officers to respond without the consent of local officials.
On Sunday, Trump even shared a post calling Wheeler “the useless f***ing idiot and comic relief that gets everyone killed in every disaster movie.” (While sharing the post, Trump included a line about the expletive: “Tone down the language, but TRUE!”)
At a press conference, Wheeler issued a direct response to Trump, accusing him of helping to create a climate of violence in the U.S.
"Do you seriously wonder, Mr. President, why this is the first time in decades that America has seen this level of violence?" he asked. “It’s you who have created the hate and the division.”
Wheeler continued: “It’s you who have not found a way to say the names of Black people killed by police officers, even as people in law enforcement have. And it’s you who claimed that white supremacists are ‘good people.’ Your campaign of fear is as antidemocratic as anything you’ve done to create hate and vitriol in our beautiful country. You’ve tried to divide us more than any other figure in modern history, and now you want me to to stop the violence that you helped create. What America needs is for you to be stopped so we can come back together as one America.”
The caustic attacks on Wheeler followed a week in which Trump and the Republican National Convention seemed largely unsure how to address unrest in Kenosha, Wis., after a police shooting there paralyzed Jacob Blake, a Black man. A 17-year-old, Kyle Rittenhouse, is accused of joining counterprotesters in the city, killing two people and wounding a third.
But by Sunday morning, Trump and his White House had found a clear focus: blaming local Democrats across the board.
“Most of Donald Trump’s America is peaceful,” White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” when asked whether Trump should be blamed for not keeping American streets safe. “It is a Democrat-led city in Portland that we're talking about this morning, who just yesterday denied help once again from the federal government.”
On the CBS program “Face the Nation,” acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf further blamed local officials who have “failed to protect their communities, specifically in Portland.”
The Trump campaign issued a statement Sunday afternoon on “continuing left-wing mob violence,” blasting his Democratic opponent and warning: “You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.”
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