Read: Trump’s vision of lawless order
This is notable because Acevedo, who is nearly as adept a Twitter user as the president, has been a respectful but fierce and consistent critic of Trump’s. Who knows whether Trump is unaware of Acevedo’s past remarks or simply doesn’t care (though he’s not known for magnanimity toward critics), but he didn’t mention the past disagreements. The things on which Acevedo has differed from Trump aren’t just picayune matters—though Acevedo did pointedly rebut a bogus claim about crowd size at a Houston rally last fall. Many of them cut straight to the heart of Trump’s perspective on police.
For example, on Wednesday Trump said, “In my administration, we understand that reducing crime begins with respecting law enforcement. We will not tolerate smears, or slanders, or assaults on those who wear the badge and police our streets. In order to keep every American safe, we are making officer safety a top priority—unless you’d rather not have that.”
This is a familiar refrain. Trump has often been more blunt, making it clear that he endorses police brutality. In July 2017, speaking on Long Island, Trump said this:
When you see these towns and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of the paddy wagon, you just see them thrown in, rough. I said please don’t be too nice. Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put your hand over? Like don’t hit their head and they’ve just killed somebody. Don’t hit their head. I said you can take the hand away, okay?
Acevedo was one of many top cops who criticized Trump at the time:
Trump also devoted much of his speech Wednesday to immigration, speaking about the need for a border wall and tough immigration policies.
“It is the core responsibility of government to establish and enforce clear rules for entry and admission into our great country,” he said. “These immigration laws exist to protect our families, our communities, and the security of our entire nation. When these laws are violated, innocent Americans—including millions of hardworking legal immigrants—are left to pay a very heavy price.”
Here, too, Acevedo has taken issue with the administration’s policies, especially separating children from their parents at the border:
Acevedo wasn’t the only officer whom Trump called onstage. The president also recognized John McMahon, the sheriff of San Bernardino County, California. McMahon praised Trump’s support for police as “incredible,” but he also said that “the relationships we have with our federal law-enforcement partners are absolutely incredible.” That could be read as a veiled criticism of Trump. As much as he has adopted “Blue Lives Matter” rhetoric, Trump has also consistently undermined the rule of law and attacked the integrity of the FBI, the top federal law-enforcement agency.