By JUSTIN FISHEL, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — The president has made “law and order” a central theme of his reelection pitch.
As his outgoing counselor Kellyanne Conway said this week, the White House believes the president stands to benefit politically from the unrest in American cities.
Portland, Oregon, marked 100 straight days of protests this week and Kenosha, Wisconsin, has experienced both peaceful protests and deadly violence in the wake of the Jacob Blake police shooting.
But as the president makes his case, he and his administration are getting many of the facts wrong, often in ways that could stoke political and racial division, and in some cases might actually be counterproductive to efforts to keep law and order on the ground.
Welcome to Fact Check Friday:
Not his store
Before President Trump left for Kenosha this week, Wisconsin’s Democratic Gov. Tony Evers asked him not to come, saying it would “only hinder our healing.”
White House spokesman Judd Deere responded, saying, “The White House has been humbled by the outreach of individuals from Kenosha who have welcomed the President’s visit and are longing for leadership to support local law enforcement and businesses that have been vandalized.”
But when one owner of a burned out business in Kenosha declined to appear with the president, the White House instead asked the store’s previous owner to show up — and Trump falsely identified him as the current owner.
“John Rode, III, owner of Rode’s Camera Shop,” the president said, introducing the previous owner, who went on to praise the president.
A local news report revealed Rode actually sold that shop some years back.
In an interview with the local TV affiliate, current owner Tom Gram explained that he declined a White House invitation to appear alongside Trump because he didn’t want to be part of what he felt would be a White House photo op.
The White House later conceded that John Rode III was not the business owner, but said his family still owns the building that houses the shop that was damaged.
The president has falsely declared that he deployed the National Guard to Kenosha or misleadingly claimed he should get credit.
On Tuesday, Trump said, “My administration coordinated with the state and local authorities to very, very swiftly deploy the National Guard, surge federal law enforcement to Kenosha, and stop the violence.”
The week before, he said, “we sent in the National Guard.”
He didn’t do that. In fact, he can’t do that.
Wisconsin’s governor authorized the deployment of the National Guard on Aug. 24. The president does not have the authority to deploy a state’s National Guard.
That didn’t stop the aforementioned Mr. Rode — at the burned-out business photo op — from thanking the president profusely for sending in those troops.
“I just appreciate President Trump coming today; everybody here does. We’re so thankful that we got the federal troops in to help because once they got here, things did calm down quite a bit,” he said, as Trump prompted him.
The president does have the option to federalize National Guard troops through the Insurrection Act, but he hasn’t done that and the law hasn’t been used since the Los Angeles riots in 1992.
The president did, however, deploy about 200 federal law enforcement personnel to Kenosha. They include agents from the FBI, the ATF and U.S. Marshals. The Justice Department says they were there to “assist state and local law enforcement in the response to rioting and unrest,” but did not specify their role beyond that.
Video, what video?
Earlier this week, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany falsely claimed that the president had not seen a video of Trump supporters shooting paint guns at protesters from the back of a pickup truck.
The incident occurred when a caravan of Trump supporters, encouraged by the president, showed up in Portland Saturday night to counter protest.
Asked if the she or the president had seen the video, not only did McEnany deny he had, she got indignant.
“The president’s never seen that video,” McEnany said. “And it’s incredible that today is the one time you’re interested in violence when it’s paintballs, and we don’t even know who set off these paintballs, but you failed to ask for 90 days about violence from an anarchist organization because it happens to be on the left. “
The problem is that the president had tweeted out the video in question just a day earlier.
It’s probably best to give McEnany the benefit of the doubt and assume she was not intentionally misleading the press.
It’s more likely she (even though she’s the press secretary) wasn’t following the president’s Twitter feed closely over the weekend.
After all, he tweeted more than 100 times on Sunday alone.
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