Amid nationwide protests, Noah pressed Biden on the topic of police brutality and calls to defund the police.

By Nick Romano
June 11, 2020 at 09:12 AM EDT
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The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

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Amid nationwide anti-racism and anti-police brutality protests, sparked by the killing of George Floyd, former vice president and 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden appeared on Comedy Central's The Daily Show for an interview with Trevor Noah, who wasted no time in posing questions about police reform and defunding the police.

Biden said previously he doesn't favor defunding the police force, but instead promotes police reform. "What does that actually mean?" Noah asked. "Because some people think that you cannot reform an institution that is fundamentally rotten in the core."

"Well, I don't think it's rotten in the core," Biden responded. "And I don't think all cops are bad cops, but I think... Look, 90 percent of all the funding for the police comes from local taxpayers. So, the federal government under our system cannot, other than taking a civil rights action, say they do A, B, C, and D. But what we can do is we can make sure we insist [that] certain fundamental changes take place now, including making sure there's sensitivity training, making sure that all of cops' past transgressions are all made public. Because we can say, if you don't, we're not gonna provide the federal funding that we provide for you through what we call Byrne grants and cop grants."

Biden mentioned other stipulations for police, such as “a national use of force standard” and a mandatory reporting of misconduct to the Justice Department. Noah then posed whether trained officials other than police should respond to situations like mental health crises and drug abuse. Biden mentioned his daughter, a social worker, in saying he doesn't think she should respond to drug abuse 9-1-1 calls by herself, but feels police should be treated "second in those circumstances" and arrive on scene with trained specialists. "We should change the way in which we deal with all drug abuse," he said. "Nobody should be going to jail for the use of drugs. They should be going to mandatory rehabilitation. We should be building more rehab centers, not prisons."

Though Biden didn't use a lot of the phrasing around "defund the police," he came around to saying, "I think we should turn over as much as we can to non-armed police officers to de-escalate things related to mental illness, homelessness, and drug abuse."

Changing topics, Noah also asked Biden about the forthcoming election and how he plans to run his campaign against President Trump, who likes to "punch below the belt." "The thing we're doing is calling out every lie he in fact is saying," Biden said. "We're calling out and making a case that this guy is not a good guy. This is what he has done."

He went on to say that his "single greatest concern" is election fraud by Trump. "This president is gonna try to steal this election," he said. But Biden promised that, if he does win the election and Trump refuses to leave the White House, "I'm absolutely convinced [the military] will escort him from the White House with great dispatch."

To help combat systemic racism, please consider donating to these organizations:

  • Campaign Zero, which is dedicated to ending police brutality in America through research-based strategies.
  • Color of Change, which works to move decision makers in corporations and government to be more responsive to racial disparities.
  • Equal Justice Initiative, which provides legal services to people who have been wrongly convicted, denied a fair trial, or abused in state jails and prisons.

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