Skip to content Skip to footer

Trump Voices Support for Extrajudicial Executions by Police

The president appeared to openly endorse extrajudicial executions during a Fox News interview Saturday.

President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at the White House on September 10, 2020, in Washington, D.C.

Discussing the recent police killing of a self-described anti-fascist suspected of fatally shooting a far-right activist in Portland, Oregon, President Donald Trump openly endorsed extrajudicial executions in a Fox News interview Saturday, declaring that “there has to be retribution.”

“I put out, ‘When are you going to go get him?’ And the U.S. Marshals went in to get him,” the president told Fox News host Jeanine Pirro, referring to Michael Forest Reinoehl. “This guy was a violent criminal, and the U.S. Marshals killed him. And I’ll tell you something—that’s the way it has to be. There has to be retribution.”

Trump’s comments came days after an ordained minister who lives in an apartment complex near where Reinoehl was shot and killed by members of a law enforcement task force earlier this month in Lacey, Washington said it was not at all clear that Reinoehl was armed when police gunned him down.

As the Washington Post reported, the witness alleges that “Reinoehl was clutching a cellphone and eating a gummy worm as he walked to his car… That’s when officers opened fire without first announcing themselves or trying to arrest him.” The witness account contradicts the law enforcement narrative that Reinoehl “produced a firearm” when officers attempted to arrest him.

In VICE interview before he was killed by police, Reinoehl said he was acting in self-defense late last month when he fatally shot Aaron Danielson, a member of the far-right group Patriot Prayer.

Watch Trump’s remarks:

Lawmakers and other observers immediately raised alarm at Trump’s celebration of the police killing of Reinoehl, which the president explicitly characterized as retaliatory.

“State violence to advance the end of ‘retribution’ is death squad logic,” tweeted Brian Beutler of Crooked Media.

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) noted that “extrajudicial killings are something many Republican U.S. senators oppose if they happen outside of the United States.”

“But they won’t say anything about this,” Schatz added. “Every single member of the Senate who talks about the rule of law needs to speak up, or forever hold their peace.”

It takes longer to read this sentence than it does to support our work.

We don’t have much time left to raise the $15,000 needed to meet Truthout‘s basic publishing costs this month. Will you take a few seconds to donate and give us a much-needed boost?

We know you are deeply committed to the issues that matter, and you count on us to bring you trustworthy reporting and comprehensive analysis on the real issues facing our country and the world. And as a nonprofit newsroom supported by reader donations, we’re counting on you too. If you believe in the importance of an independent, free media, please make a tax-deductible donation today!