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Still fixated on Obama, Trump ignores record on policing reforms

On police reforms, Trump took his preoccupation with Obama in a decidedly weird turn.
President Barack Obama talks with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office
President Barack Obama talks with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office on Nov. 10, 2016.Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post via Getty Images file

Donald Trump's preoccupation with his immediate predecessor continues to be a bit creepy. Just over the last couple of months, the president claimed that North Korea's Kim Jong-un "wouldn't meet with" Barack Obama, which was ridiculously false. Around the same time, the Republican said his predecessor "left us no ammunition." That's equally absurd.

Trump even tried to blame Obama for reduced pandemic stockpiles in ways that were completely backwards. (In fact, the irony of this one is that Trump's claim makes Obama look better, not worse.)

Yesterday, however, the current president took matters in an even weirder turn. At a White House event in which Trump signed an executive order on policing reforms, he thought it'd be a good idea to lie about Obama's interest in the issue.

"President Obama and Vice President Biden never even tried to fix this during their eight-year period. The reason they didn't try is because they had no idea how to do it. And it is a complex situation."

Even for those unfamiliar with the issue, the nature of Trump's boast should've been a dead giveaway: the Republican apparently wants people to believe the Democratic White House was baffled by the complexity of an issue, which only Trump -- a celebrated policy wonk -- could responsibly tackle.


But just as important is the reality Trump chose to reject. As NBC News explained yesterday, "Obama, the nation's first Black president, who confronted and addressed race and racism frequently, did take action to reform police and try to reduce bias in law enforcement. The Trump administration is well aware of that, too: It unraveled those changes."

Exactly. As we discussed a couple of weeks ago, the Obama administration launched ambitious law-enforcement reforms. In fact, a Vox report noted a few years ago that during Obama's presidency, the Justice Department "played a key role in exposing abuses from local police departments, exposing everything from unjustified shootings to a broader pattern of racism in a police force."

The report added that under Obama, the Justice Department took on more civil rights investigations of local police departments than his recent predecessors, launching probes into "nearly two dozen police departments, from Baltimore to Ferguson, Missouri to Chicago -- uncovering a wide range of abusive, even racist, police practices."

So what happened? Trump was elected, and his administration reversed course.

HuffPost's Ryan J. Reilly recently added that since Trump took office, "his appointees at the Justice Department have all but eliminated the federal government's police reform work. The Civil Rights Division's police practices group has shrunk by half, and it hasn't opened any major pattern-or-practice investigations that could rein in police departments that regularly violate constitutional rights. The Trump administration [also] effectively killed a collaborative reform initiative created by DOJ's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services that allowed cities to voluntarily implement reform, a move that left the local officials who had partnered with DOJ feeling abandoned."

If Trump wants to defend his administration's abandonment of Obama-era reforms, fine. Let's hear the case. If the president wants to argue that Obama-era reforms didn't go far enough, I'm all ears.

But Trump finds it easier to simply lie and pretend that events from the recent past never occurred, apparently because of his creepy fixation with the Democratic president.