White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany reiterated Wednesday that President Trump considers ending qualified immunity for police officers “a non-starter” as discussions about police reform continue in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
McEnany’s comments come after she said Monday that qualified immunity — which shields cops from being sued in court for violating a civilian’s constitutional rights, unless their actions violated “clearly established federal law” — was not something the president would consider.
“You had AG Barr saying this weekend he was asked about reduced immunity and he said, ‘I don’t think we need to reduce immunity to go after the bad cops because that would result certainly in police pulling back,’ which is not advisable,” McEnany said, referencing an interview Barr gave to CBS News’s Face the Nation. “I don’t think you need to reduce immunity to . . . to go after the bad cops, because that would result certainly in police pulling back,” Barr told Margaret Brennan.
Democrats have already released a proposal for police reform that does call for ending qualified immunity, while also amending the standard of prosecution for police misconduct from “willfulness” to “recklessness.” The White House is currently reviewing a number of proposals, in consultation with Republicans on Capitol Hill.
Senator Tim Scott (R., S.C.), the lone black Republican in the Senate, has been tasked with leading the GOP effort to pass a police-reform bill before July 4, and has also ruled out reforming qualified immunity.
“We are on a separate track from White House,” Scott told reporters. “I have been talking with folks in the White House about the track they’re on as well. Certainly there is a way for us all to work together, but we’ve been in discussion with them for several days.”