In response to President Donald Trump’s continued claims that Democratic nominee Joe Biden supports defunding the police, a goal of the Black Lives Matter movement, Biden asserted in an interview with ABC News on Friday that it’s instead Trump who actually supports legislation that would do that.
The interview, which was the first joint interview with Biden and vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris since the two accepted the Democratic nomination, was featured in a special edition of "20/20" called "The Ticket: The First Interview," airing Sunday night on ABC.
“President Trump says that you want to defund the police. Do you?” asked "Good Morning America" co-anchor Robin Roberts in the interview conducted in Wilmington, Delaware.
“No I don’t,” Biden responded, laughing. “By the way, he proposes cutting a half a billion dollars of local police support.”
Biden then detailed his support for increasing funding for local police forces and deploying more psychologists and social workers in police work.
He contrasted his plan with Trump’s action in office: “So the only guy that actually put in a bill to actually defund the police is Donald Trump,” Biden said.
Calls to “defund the police” have gained traction since the murder of George Floyd in May at the hands of a white police officer. Advocates want to cut police department budgets and allocate the money to community organizations like public health centers and schools in an attempt to right systemic racial injustices in the police system.
Biden, a moderate Democrat, has been clear that he doesn’t support the idea, though Trump has attempted to conflate other Democrats’ support for it with Biden’s, claiming Biden has been taken over by the “radical left.
In his response on Friday — a new defense against Trump’s claims — Biden was referring to community police efforts that stand to lose funding under Trump’s proposed 2021 budget.
Trump, however, has not said he supports defunding the police. On the contrary, Trump has equated the policy idea to anarchy.
“We won’t be dismantling our police. We won't be disbanding our police. We won’t be ending our police force in a city,” Trump said at a White House event in June. “I guess you might have some cities that want to try, but it's going to be a very, very sad situation if they did, because people aren't going to be protected.”
Here are the facts behind Biden’s response and Trump’s previous comments, broken down.
What Biden says about Trump
When Biden said Trump “proposes cutting a half a billion dollars of local police support,” he was referring to a proposed budget cut of $465.8 million to the Office of Justice Programs, which provides grants to communities for different public safety issues.
One of the office’s hallmark programs is the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Program, which was created by the 1994 crime bill that Biden wrote as a senator. The program provides hiring grants for community-based policing.
It’s unclear how much funding will be cut from the COPS program next year because Trump and Congress have yet to agree on a 2021 budget, but the office that it sits under is looking at a 20% budget loss, from $2.3 billion to $1.85 billion -- about half a billion dollars, as Biden said.
But despite what’s on paper, Trump has made it clear during speeches, rallies and tweets that he is fully opposed to defunding the police, instead embracing police unions and police officers as he did during his 2016 campaign.
“We will never, ever defund our police. OK? That I can tell you. We are not defunding police,” Trump said during an event in Florida on July 10.
On Friday, when Biden said Trump was actually the candidate who was more likely to cut police funding based on the 2021 proposed budget, Trump’s 2020 campaign fired back with a critique of Biden’s own record.
“Joe Biden doesn’t have a leg to stand on regarding police funding,” Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said in a statement to ABC News.
“It is an objective fact that federal funding for state and local law enforcement has risen under President Trump, while it fell dramatically while Joe Biden was vice president. They only want to talk about one program -- COPS -- which also fell while he was VP after they made a 2008 campaign promise to fully fund it,” Murtaugh said.
According to a report by the Congressional Research Service, the official researchers for Congress, funding for the COPS program did fall while Biden was vice president, though they explained the fall in funding as mostly due to decisions made by Congress to restructure.
What Trump says about Biden
While Trump has tried to align Biden with calls to defund the police, Biden, for his part, has repeatedly said that he doesn’t back the policy, as he did during Friday’s interview.
"No, I don't support defunding the police," he said in a June interview with CBS while in Houston to meet with the family of George Floyd. "I support conditioning federal aid to police based on whether or not they meet certain basic standards of decency and honorableness. And, in fact, are able to demonstrate they can protect the community and everybody in the community."
But Biden’s clear response has not stopped Trump from attempting to align Biden with other facets of the Democratic Party that do fully support Black Lives Matter calls to defund the police.
“Biden has vowed to defund the police, do all sorts of things to law enforcement that are bad,” Trump said in an August “tele-rally” with supporters on Facebook. In “Joe Biden's America,” Trump told supporters, “you and your family will never, ever be safe.”
“Your police will be disrespected and they'll be a much smaller force and it's just not gonna happen. We can't let it happen,” he said.
In fact, Biden’s police reform plan calls for $300 million in funding for community-oriented policing, a portion of which would go toward hiring more police, which has been sharply criticized by some progressive Democrats.
When asked for evidence of his claims that Biden wants to cut funding to the police in a July interview with Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, Trump incorrectly claimed it was a component of the unity task force Biden created with Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders.
“It says nothing about defunding the police,” Wallace correctly told Trump during the interview.
Despite the squabbling, both candidates have clearly stated they do not agree with calls to defund the policeDespite their policy differences, neither Trump nor Biden have shown any explicit support for defunding the police.
While Biden has made efforts to compromise with progressive Democrats and devote more funding for services that would go beyond physical protection, he has not fully satisfied their calls for more reform.
“Most cops are good, but the fact is, the bad ones need to be identified and prosecuted,” Biden said during his speech at the Democratic National Convention last week.
And, of course, asked by Roberts on Friday if he supports defunding the police, Biden said, “no, I don’t.”
Meanwhile, Trump has vehemently described a society with less police as unsafe and used it as a campaign platform to attack Democrats for months. Democrats, Trump said in the interview with Fox, are running American cities “poorly,” in part because of calls to defund the police.
“They run them poorly, it was always bad, but now, it's gotten totally out of control and it's because they wanted to defund the police and Biden wants to defund the police,” he said.
ABC News' Molly Nagle contributed to this report