comScore Don Lemon Questions Ja'Ron Smith on Trump Executive Order

Don Lemon Questions WH Official on Trump Executive Order: Why Not Ban Chokeholds Outright?

CNN’s Don Lemon spoke with White House Deputy Assistant to the President Ja’Ron Smith Tuesday night about President Donald Trump’s executive order addressing policing issues raised by the past few weeks of civil unrest over the killing of George Floyd.

Lemon went through elements of the executive order with Smith before questioning him directly about the issue of chokeholds. The president said during his announcement that chokeholds would be banned “except if an officer’s life is at risk.”

“Why not ban them outright,” Lemon asked, “instead of the president qualifying it with ‘except if the officer’s life is at risk’? Police officers already use that argument now.”

Smith responded, “So if a police officer’s life is on the line and someone is trying to take his life, they have to be able to defend themselves. This goes back to my earlier statement that we want to encourage police officers to do their job. And that’s public safety. And that’s dealing with the bad guys. However, we realize that in dealing with certain issues such as mental health and drug addiction or homelessness, maybe a social service provider maybe the best thing for it. What we’re trying to do is create more, better, stronger, higher standard police forces that deal with the real issues of the community.”

“It sounds like what you’re doing is… you don’t offer someone who is breaking the law money to incentivize them to not break the law,” Lemon remarked. “Its sound like that’s what you’re doing to police officers.”

Smith said that’s not how it works and said officers already “have consensus around the chokehold.”

“We’re going to reward the police departments that get accreditation. That means that they have the training, they have the use-of-force standards, they have the community relationships. Those police departments that are accredited will be prioritized. The police departments that register their bad cops into the system will be rewarded with funding. That’s what we’re saying,” he added.

Lemon also asked Smith at one point about Trump’s remarks that the Obama administration didn’t do anything, saying, “To say the administration didn’t try to do anything or didn’t do anything on this issue is simply false. Why would the president say that?”

“He did something, but it made the community less safe,” Smith responded. “It put more cops off the beat. It put more cops from putting into areas of Baltimore and Chicago where the violence is. Because it was too much liability on the line for their life. We’ve got to protect the cops too.”

You can watch above, via CNN.

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Josh Feldman is a Senior Editor at Mediaite. Email him here: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @feldmaniac