Biden White House Earns 'Three Pinocchios' for Claiming GOP Is Defunding the Police


The Washington Post is giving the White House “Three Pinocchios” for their “slipshod claim that Republicans are defunding the police.”

The fact-check mentions a claim made by Cedric L. Richmond, senior adviser to President Joe Biden, during an interview with Fox News in June.

“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,” Richmond said.

He added, “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. 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.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki also brought up the American Rescue Plan during a press briefing in June.

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“That was voted into law by Democrats just a couple of months ago. Some might say that the other party was for defunding the police; I’ll let others say that, but that’s a piece,” Psaki said.

The Post’s Salvador Rizzo explained, “Although Republicans all opposed Biden’s coronavirus relief package, no one voted to cut, or defund, anything.”

He added, “Rather, Democrats proposed $350 billion in emergency funds for state and local governments, and Republicans voted against those extra funds. That’s not a reduction.”

Rizzo noted advocates for defunding the police are generally pushing for the redirection of funds to areas including education, public health, housing, and youth services.

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Touching on the American Rescue Plan, Rizzo pointed out, “Police officers are one category of essential workers covered by the law, but they are not mentioned specifically like ‘impacted industries such as tourism, travel, and hospitality’ or ‘water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure.'”

The fact-check goes on, “In response to our questions, White House officials said Republicans were ‘effectively’ trying to defund the police by withholding support for the coronavirus relief package and by proposing to claw back some of the $350 billion in state and local aid amid ongoing infrastructure negotiations.”

Concluding his analysis, Rizzo said, going by the text of the bill alone, “Lawmakers had no guarantee that police would get a slice of the pie.”

He continued, “What’s more, voting against a one-time infusion of cash is not the same as voting to cut funding, so there is little basis to claim that Republicans are trying to ‘defund the police.'”

According to Rizzo, the only thing keeping the Post from giving the White House “Four Pinocchios” is its decision to frame the talking point using the COPS program, “which some Republicans did vote to cut funding for as recently as the Trump administration.”

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The Post defines the standard for “Three Pinocchios” as “significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions. This gets into the realm of ‘mostly false.’ But it could include statements which are technically correct (such as based on official government data) but are so taken out of context as to be very misleading.

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