Fox News host Chris Wallace confronted a Republican lawmaker Sunday over whether Republicans — not Democrats — are responsible for defunding the police.
Interestingly, Wallace's line of questioning followed an interview with a White House official who made that exact accusation: that Republicans should be blamed for defunding law enforcement.
During an interview with Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) about skyrocketing violent crime — which Banks blames on the "defund the police" movement and the impunity with which protesters demonstrated last summer — Wallace accused Republicans of defunding the police.
Wallace rooted his accusation in Republicans, including Banks, voting against President Joe Biden's America Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion COVID package passed this spring. Included in that plan was $350 billion meant for law enforcement.
"Congressman Banks, you voted against that package, against that $350 billion, just like every other Republican in the House and Senate. So can't you make the argument that it's you and the Republicans who are defunding the police?" Wallace asked.
When Banks began responding, explaining that Democrats who demonize police are responsible for rising crime and a nationwide police shortage, Wallace interrupted.
No, no, sir, respectfully— wait, sir, respectfully, I heard you make that point but I'm asking you there's $350 billion in this package the president says can be used for policing and let me put up some of the specific things that he said. Congressman Banks, let me finish and I promise I will give you a chance to answer. The president is saying cities and states can use this money to hire more police officers, invest in new technologies, and develop summer job training and recreation programs for young people. Respectfully, I've heard your point about the last year, but you and every other republican voted against this $350 billion.
Banks, however, flatly rejected any suggestion that Republicans have supported defunding the police and bear any responsibility for high rates of violent crime.
"When Rep. [Ilhan] Omar says that policing is rooted in evil and Nancy Pelosi compares police officers to Nazi stormtroopers, it makes it very difficult for police departments around the country to recruit people to become police officers. And that's the crisis that we find a in police departments all over America. You can give them more funding, and that's good, but if they can't recruit people to become a police officer because we've stigmatized one of the most honorable professions in America, then we are at a dangerous point," Banks explained.
"That is directly related to the rise in violent crime across America. If we turn a blind eye to law and order and a blind eye to riots that occurred in cities last summer, and we take police officers off the street, we are inevitably going to see crime rise," he added.
Chris Wallace to Jim Banks: 'It's you and the Republicans who are defunding the police' www.youtube.com
What did the WH official say?
Before interviewing Banks, Wallace talked with Cedric Richmond, a senior Biden adviser. During that interview, Richmond directly accused Republicans of defunding the police.
"Let's talk about who defunded the police. When we were in Congress last year trying to pass... an emergency relief plan for cities that were cash-strapped and laying off police and firefighters, it was the Republicans who objected to it. And in fact, they didn't get funding until the American Rescue Plan, which our plan allowed state and local governments to replenish their police departments and do the other things that are needed," Richmond claimed.
"So look, Republicans are very good at staying on talking points of who says defund the police, but the truth is, they defunded the police, we funded crime intervention, and a whole bunch of other things," he added.