At a press conference this Wednesday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) yet again proved his utter fealty to the Trump administration. While discussing the introduction of a policing reform bill in the Senate, he harshly criticized Democrats in general and former President Barack Obama in particular for supposedly failing to take action to deal with policing problems across the United States. But that’s a brazenly false claim — across the eight years of his presidency, Obama did, in fact, institute a number of police reform policies. Additionally, for much of his presidency, Obama faced Republicans in Congress who seemed ready to try and block his every move — the GOP controlled the House, for instance, from 2011 through 2019.
‘I’m getting a little tired of being lectured to by my Democratic colleagues that all of this is Trump’s fault. You had eight years under President Obama. The Justice and Policing Act — none of it was taken up virtually. Let’s knock that off. You’re making no points with me, trying to suggest that we’re bad and y’all are not when it comes to this issue. You had eight years, no attempts to ban chokeholds, no attempts to do any of the things we all agree we need to do now. If you want to fight about that, let’s fight. If you want to admit that the country needs to move on together, let’s do it.’
Lindsey Graham throws a fit and yells at Democrats that police brutality is not Trump's fault and blames Obama for not doing anything, which is false, about policing. pic.twitter.com/vEIRcA81sL
— Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) June 17, 2020
Graham’s suggestion that there were “no attempts to do any of the things we all agree we need to do now” is brazenly false. In fact, as a report from NBC outlines, the Trump administration has specifically rolled back police reform initiatives that were kickstarted under the Obama administration. For example, the Trump administration ended an Obama era ban on the military selling surplus equipment to local police departments, meaning cops are thereby free to militarize themselves at a sharper rate.
The Trump administration has also worked to try and roll back federal oversight of local police departments, although in the past, that oversight has been used to put a spotlight on urgent needs for reform.
As presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield, put it:
‘Donald Trump says President Obama and Vice President Biden didn’t do anything on policing reform, but he knows that isn’t true because he has spent the past three years tearing down the very reforms the Obama-Biden administration pursued.’
Indeed — at a press conference outside the White House this week, Trump himself claimed that Democrats had dropped the ball. He claimed:
‘President Obama and Vice President Biden never even tried to fix this during their eight-year period. The reason they didn’t try is they had no idea how to do it,’
That is brazenly untrue. Perhaps Trump is lying out of a desperation about his political prospects, since Biden leads by big margins in many polls on both the national level and the levels of individual swing states around the country, including some that Trump won in 2016.