White House: Legislative effort to reform qualified immunity for police is a ‘nonstarter’

Amid widespread calls for police reform, one particularly contentious issue involves a doctrine known as qualified immunity, which largely protects officers from lawsuits when they are accused of wrongdoing.

That concept is addressed in the latest legislative proposal crafted by House Democrats, but the White House is making it clear that any efforts to limit or remove this legal protection is a “nonstarter” at this point, National Review reported.

“He’s looking at a number of proposals”

The topic came up during a press briefing on Monday when White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was asked if there was anything in the Democrats’ proposal, which had been announced earlier in the day, that the administration could support.

“He’s looking at a number of proposals,” she said of President Donald Trump, according to a White House transcript. “But there are some nonstarters in there, I would say — particularly the immunity issue.”

McEnany went on to reference a CBS interview the previous day during which U.S. Attorney General William Barr was asked a similar question.

“[Barr] 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 told reporters.

“A nonstarter in the Democratic legislation”

The issue of qualified immunity came up again during Wednesday’s briefing, and McEnany once again referred to the discussion of any such reforms as a “nonstarter.”

She also said the president is addressing several potential measures, noting that each “has certain ramifications, so he has to look at each of these in great detail, as he’s done over the last few days.”

Further explaining the administration’s position, McEnany referenced Barr’s reaction in asserting that Democrats “talked about needing to reduce immunity to go after bad cops, but that would result in police pulling back, so that is one thing that is a nonstarter.”

Asked whether the issue is a “red line” for Trump, the press secretary responded that it is “a nonstarter in the Democrat legislation.”

National Review noted that U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) — the nation’s only black Republican senator — has taken a leading role within the party in crafting a police reform proposal. He is reportedly also against the idea of rolling back qualified immunity.

It seems the issue is still up for debate among lawmakers. At the White House, however, McEnany left little doubt that Trump’s mind is made up.

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