Trump is under fire for repeatedly celebrating law enforcement's killing of suspected antifa gunman in Washington

President Trump holds a Make America Great Again campaign rally in Winston-Salem, NC United States on September 8, 2020Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
  • President Donald Trump condoned the killing of a man under investigation in connection to the murder of a right-wing activist in Portland, Oregon.
  • Trump praised US Marshals for "taking care of" Michael Forest Reinoehl "in 15 minutes," referring officers shooting and killing Reinoehl as they went in to arrest him earlier this month.
  • "The US Marshals killed him and I will tell you something, that's the way it has to be," Trump said, referring to Reinoehl. "There has to be retribution when you have crime like this."
  • "We are on our way to normalizing the execution of criminal suspects before arrest, trial or conviction. It's that serious," tweeted Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

President Donald Trump repeatedly celebrated federal law enforcement's killing of a man under investigation in the murder of a right-wing activist in Portland, Oregon.

"A man, who's a bad guy, bad guy, shot somebody right in the middle of the street," Trump said at a rally on Sunday night, referring to Michael Forest Reinoehl, a self-described anti-fascist suspected of killing Aaron Danielson at a protest in late August. "Two-and-a-half days, nothing happened. I said, 'What's going on?' We sent in the US Marshals. It was taken care of in 15 minutes. Okay? 15 minutes."

Trump's comments elicited big cheers from the crowd. Advertisement

The president suggested that law enforcement should be empowered to bypass due process and kill criminal suspects in order to quell rioting in American cities. He added that local police "could do a great job, if they were let to do their job, but they're not."

The president similarly called for illegal "retribution" against alleged criminals in an interview with Fox News host Jeanine Pirro that aired over the weekend.

"The US Marshals killed him and I will tell you something, that's the way it has to be," Trump said, referring to Reinoehl. "There has to be retribution when you have crime like this."
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The president's apparent endorsement of police killings was widely condemned by his critics.

"So the President is admitting that federal authorities killed Michael Reinoehl for "retribution"? We are on our way to normalizing the execution of criminal suspects before arrest, trial or conviction. It's that serious," tweeted Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Some pointed out that Trump's celebration of the killing of an antifa activist comes after a former senior Department of Homeland Security official accused top DHS officials of manipulating intelligence to exaggerate the threat posed by the far-left group and downplay the threat posed by far-right groups. Advertisement

"Trump's encouragement of extrajudicial killing comes after a whistleblower described DHS demands to "modify intelligence" to paint antifa as a domestic terrorist threat," Michelle Goldberg, a progressive New York Times columnist, tweeted. "This is a systematic effort to put a group of Americans outside of the most basic legal protections."

The US Marshals released a statement saying that Reinoehl "produced a firearm, threatening the lives of law enforcement officers," as officers moved to arrest him. The Marshals shot and killed Reinoehl, who was pronounced dead at the scene. It's unclear if Reinoehl fired at law enforcement.

Witnesses at the scene of Reinoehl's death provided dramatically different accounts of his killing. One eyewitness said law enforcement shot Reinoehl before they gave him a "stop" command and claimed that Reinoehl was holding a cell phone, not a firearm, when he was killed. Advertisement

Trump has expressed contradictory sentiments when it comes to violence perpetrated by his supporters. The president refused to condemn Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old who shot three Black Lives Matter-aligned protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin last month, killing two of them. Rittenhouse has been charged with homicide.

"I just feel bad for that 17-year-old," Trump said.

Right-wing activists have gone further, celebrating Rittenhouse as a hero for allegedly attempting to protect the city from rioters. Advertisement

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