Kentucky AG Daniel Cameron pitches President Trump as 'best for this country' amid racial strife

Daniel Cameron is the first African American to hold the AG post in Kentucky.

August 28, 2020, 9:44 AM

Daniel Cameron, the attorney general of Kentucky whose office is leading the Breonna Taylor investigation, said he believes President Donald Trump, despite his inflammatory rhetoric on race, is "best for this country" while sidestepping Trump's controversial response to ongoing unrest over racial justice.

"I believe, President Trump is best for this country," he told ABC News Political Director Rick Klein and Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl on the "Powerhouse Politics" podcast in response to questions about Trump's approach and statements on race. "Whether it be economically, or whether it is related to how he fights every day for the American worker...I appreciate the values that this party upholds and I think they've been consistent with the way that the president has conducted himself in the last four years."

Former Vice President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party as a whole, he said, only see Black voters as a monolith that lacks diversity and independence of thought.

"Joe Biden articulated...a very narrow view of Black folks," he said of the Democratic nominee's comment that "you ain't black" if you're an undecided voter, which Biden has apologized for.

"I think that what Vice President Biden said was demonstrating that he sees us just as a bloc of votes to be taken for granted as opposed to having to provide any sort of real policies or real solutions to some of the issues and challenges that this community faces," said Cameron, who is the first African American independently elected to statewide office in the commonwealth.

Cameron's argument contrasts what he characterizes as Trump's strong record on race -- including on criminal justice reform -- with some of Biden's problematic statements, while leaving Biden's long history on criminal justice reform and Trump's own incendiary statements by the wayside. Nearly every Black speaker who took the stage at the Republican National Convention this week presented a similar comparison.

When pressed on the president's divisive rhetoric on race, including when Trump said there are "very fine people on both sides" after the 2017 Charlottesville Unite the Right rally and when he called the Black Lives Matter movement a "symbol of hate," Cameron refused to condemn Trump.

"What I will say is that I have had numerous occasions to be with the president and he's always treated me with respect," he told the co-hosts. "He's been very interested in what's going on in Kentucky from law enforcement and the attorney general perspective."

"I am not here to to cast any sort of wide net in terms of the comments that have been made by the president," he said, adding that Biden's thought process "demonstrates a lack of of interest in getting to know each individual of the African American community and speaking to us individually as opposed to assuming, because you look a particular way, you have to vote a particular way."

Cameron said that he is not implying that all Black voters should instead vote for Trump but that they should make up their own minds.

"...We all have the ability to make assessments and wise and deliberate assessments about who we ultimately want to vote for in November," he said.

But he added: "I'm voting for President Trump because ultimately he has done everything he possibly can in terms of our economy -- to build an economy that works for everyone, and minorities obviously benefited from that economy."

The attorney general, a rising star in the GOP and a potential successor of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, made a similar argument at the convention on Tuesday night during his prime time slot when he said, "Mr. Vice President, look at me. I am Black; we are not all the same, sir. I am not in chains. My mind is my own."

His appearance renewed criticism over his central role in overseeing the investigation into Taylor, the 26-year-old Black EMT who died on March 13 when Louisville police officers shot her inside her home.

Cameron was put in charge of the case in mid-May, some three months ago. Four months after Taylor's death, he has yet to announce whether he will pursue charges against the officers, even amid increasing public outrage and pressure as her family anxiously awaits a final decision.

He has said little about the case, often refusing to commit to a timeline on his office's decision. On Aug. 23, he tweeted, "The investigation remains ongoing, and our office does not plan to make an announcement this week."

During the interview on Thursday, Cameron reiterated his commitment to the case but said that investigators were still gathering information.

"There's no body camera footage for this case," he said. "It becomes very fact intensive, very witness interview intensive and this ballistic report becomes incredibly important as well. So once we've gotten all that information, the FBI, conducting its ballistics test and providing a report to us, then that will be really, really helpful in us making final judgments as to what the next steps are."

"I'm hoping that we'll be able to undertake that analysis soon," he said.

Asked why the investigation has taken so long, Cameron said his office is "not immune" to the criticism but that he has explained it to Taylor's family. He said he met with Taylor's family to share his heartbreak for their loss and to underscore how important it is for his investigation to be as thorough as possible.

"I said to the family that we are leaving no stone unturned. I recognize that it's taken longer than anybody would want. But my responsibility as the attorney general is to not make rash judgments, but to make very wise and considered judgments based on the facts, and based on the interviews that we've done based on this ballistics report," he said. "We also have a responsibility and a fidelity to the facts and the truth."