Trump tackles racism, Juneteenth and policing in several interviews

Trump spoke to Fox News, WSJ and Sinclair Thursday from the White House.

June 18, 2020, 3:00 PM

President Donald Trump in several interviews Thursday reacted to the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have taken to the streets and attempted to addressed the civil unrest seen across the country by taking credit for Juneteenth becoming "very famous" and suggesting that some of the deaths caused by police officers were "accidents."

President Donald Trump speaks prior to signing an executive order on police reform at a ceremony in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, June 16, 2020.
Leah Millis/Reuters

Trump admits there 'probably is some' systematic racism in US

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Trump acknowledged that there probably is some systematic racism in the country.

"I’d like to think there is not" systemic racism, Trump said according to the Journal, "but unfortunately, there probably is some. I would also say it’s very substantially less than it used to be."

Trump even provided clarity on what he meant by his now infamous and widley critcized tweet reading "when the looting starts, the shooting starts" saying he meant it as both a statement of fact and a threat. "Both," he said about the meaning.

However, in May, the president said that the tweet was actually a caution about protests getting out of control, not to be taken as a threat.

"It means when there’s looting, people get shot and they die," Trump said in response to a reporter’s question during an evening meeting with business leaders. "And that’s the way it was meant."

Trump brags that he made Juneteenth 'very famous'

With huge gatherings and protests planned across the country on Juneteenth -- the day which marks the end of slavery in the U.S. -- the president then took credit for making the holiday "very famous."

"I did something good: I made Juneteenth very famous," Trump told the Journal. "It’s actually an important event, an important time. But nobody had ever heard of it."

Juneteenth for more than 150 years has marked the end of slavery in the U.S. and is recognized as a holiday in 47 states and the District of Columbia.

Trump, during the interview with the Journal, was surprised to discover the White House put out a statement marking the occasion last year.

"Oh, really? We put out a statement? The Trump White House put out a statement?" Trump said. "OK, OK. Good."

The White House has put out a statement honoring Juneteenth every year Trump has been in office.

Trump sides with police officers

In defending his ability to empathize at a time of racial tensions in the country, President Trump in an interview with Sinclair yesterday cited his meeting with family members of individuals who have been killed by police -- and then he said that some of their deaths were accidental.

"I am empathetic," Trump said. "I met with some of the greatest people yesterday. Parents of -- of young men and women who were, in some cases, accidentally and other cases, who knows about accidents, right? But, children that were killed and it was a very sad thing, no I feel tremendous sorrow and loss."

This came a day after the president met with the families of individuals whose killings have sparked outrage and are widely regarded as examples of an intentional and unjustified used of force -- not because they were accidents.

Reacting on Fox News Wednesday evening to the fatal police shooting of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta, Trump called it a "terrible situation" but added that "you can’t resist a police officer."

"I thought it was a terrible situation but you can’t resist a police officer," Trump said. "And if you have a disagreement you have to take it up after the fact."

The president also raised a concern whether or not Officer Garrett Rolfe, who was fired and charged with felony murder after fatally shooting Brooks, would get "a fair shake, because police have not been treated fairly in our country."

"It’s up to justice, right now, it’s up to justice," Trump told Fox News' Sean Hannity. "I hope he gets a fair shake because police have not been treated fairly in our country. They have not been treated fairly, but again you can’t resist a police officer like that, and they ended up in a terrible disagreement, and look at the way, look at the way it ended. Very bad. Very bad."

ABC News' Jordyn Phelps contributed to this report

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