On Jan. 19, 2021, as a part of a sequence of pardons on his final full day in workplace, President Donald J. Trump commuted the sentence of a person who had spent virtually 30 years of a life sentence in federal jail for what prosecutors mentioned was his position within the homicide of an undercover police officer in upstate New York.

The commutation went largely unnoticed because the nation grappled with the aftermath of a pro-Trump mob’s assault on the Capitol, which included assaults on Capitol Cops. Since then, Mr. Trump has referred to the rioters as “patriots” and “hostages,” and has criticized an officer who shot and killed a girl attempting to breach a doorway close to the Home chamber.

And but Mr. Trump, who’s the primary former president to face prison indictment, has sought to painting himself as a champion of regulation enforcement, surrounding himself at occasions with a tableau of cops and law-enforcement officers as he campaigns to return to the White Home.

Mr. Trump has been endorsed by three police unions. He lately stood subsequent to the Nassau County Police commissioner at a microphone outdoors a funeral house the place he paid a condolence call at the wake for a slain New York Police officer, Jonathan Diller. Days later, Mr. Trump promised at a rally that he would cross a regulation for a compulsory demise penalty for individuals who kill cops.

“You’ll see the entire state of affairs come to a halt,” Mr. Trump mentioned of police deaths.

Mr. Trump typically poses for photographs with native cops who’re serving to to protect his motorcades at numerous stops, together with final week when he took photos with officers at a campaign stop in Upper Manhattan on the second day of his prison trial. His aides commonly submit photographs and movies of the encounters on social media, a montage supposed to underscore a law-and-order picture of the presumptive Republican nominee — who was additionally arraigned 4 occasions final yr.

Even within the courthouse, Mr. Trump seems to show this affinity, when he enters the courtroom and warmly greets the court docket officers.

John Miller, a former senior official in two police departments and on the F.B.I., who’s now the chief regulation enforcement and intelligence analyst at CNN, mentioned the cultural bond between Mr. Trump and cops stems from “police throughout the nation” who “have felt more and more deserted and remoted, unsupported by their metropolis councils, by their mayors, by their governors.”

He added, when “somebody comes out unequivocally in assist of regulation enforcement and understanding the challenges they face, it’s onerous to withstand as a result of it’s more and more uncommon at this time.”

Mr. Miller mentioned President Biden additionally has an extended historical past of supporting police work however added that statements that Mr. Biden made within the 2020 marketing campaign have been seen as lower than unequivocally supportive of regulation enforcement. However for Mr. Trump, he mentioned, a complicating issue is his assist for individuals who rioted on Jan. 6 — a few of whom assaulted police attempting to revive order.

However Mr. Trump’s statements, actions and the photographs he presents stand in stark distinction to the way in which the previous president, whose New York trial started in earnest with opening statements Monday and who’s on the heart of at the least 4 separate prison circumstances, talks about regulation enforcement within the context of the authorized system that’s looking for to convict him.

Karoline Leavitt, a spokeswoman for Mr. Trump, described him as “endorsed and beloved by regulation enforcement throughout the nation as a result of his insurance policies empowered them to do their jobs and helped them take away criminals from the streets.”

Mr. Trump’s give attention to native regulation enforcement spans a long time. Going again to the Eighties, he has described police as the answer to society’s ills, taking out a full-page advert calling for the demise penalty for a bunch of youngsters of coloration falsely accused of brutalizing a jogger in Central Park. He has mentioned police needs to be extra aggressive with individuals they arrest, as he did as president in 2017 at a law-enforcement occasion on Lengthy Island, suggesting officers didn’t want to guard the heads of suspects once they put them at the back of squad vehicles.

He has promised to indemnify officers as president, one thing he doesn’t have the authority to do. However the line has resonated together with his supporters.

5 days earlier than his prison trial in Manhattan was set to start, Mr. Trump on his social media web site shared a video of himself shaking arms and posing for a photograph with a crowd of at the least 20 officers in entrance of his airplane on the tarmac in Orlando. He used the event to once more proclaim his allegiance to the police, thanking the officers and writing in all capital letters, “I’ll all the time have your again!”

Earlier this month in Grand Rapids, Mich., Mr. Trump was flanked by quite a few uniformed sheriffs as he criticized the Biden administration over its dealing with of the wave of migrants on the border, which he blamed for a surge in crime that out there information doesn’t assist.

He additionally acquired the endorsement of the Police Officers Affiliation of Michigan, a union representing 12,000 officers. The group was one of many unions to endorse Mr. Trump early in 2016 and backed him once more in 2020. James Tignanelli, the union’s president, mentioned in an interview that the choice to again Mr. Trump once more was not tough, citing the migrant disaster.

Mr. Tignanelli mentioned he didn’t see a contradiction between these considerations and his group’s endorsement of the primary indicted former U.S. president, saying he seen the timing of the circumstances as political. And he dismissed Mr. Trump’s latest guarantees to “free” or “pardon” these imprisoned in reference to the Jan. 6 assault, arguing that Mr. Trump “talks in type of large swaths.”

On the final full day of Mr. Trump’s time period, Mr. Trump commuted the sentence of Jaime Davidson, the person who had been imprisoned for what prosecutors mentioned was his position within the homicide of the undercover officer from upstate New York, Wallie Howard Jr.

Mr. Davidson, who prosecutors mentioned led a drug ring, had spent a long time attempting to get individuals to imagine he was harmless, insisting that he had been arrange within the investigation into the capturing of Officer Howard in 1990. He wrote a e book about his case from jail, which concerned a messy and typically convoluted set of particulars.

It attracted the eye of Alice Johnson, whom Mr. Trump pardoned in 2020 and who turned an activist on behalf of different incarcerated individuals. Ms. Johnson had labored with Mr. Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, in her position as a White Home adviser.

Mr. Davidson’s lawyer, Bettina Schein, ready an in depth clemency petition for her consumer, pointing to witness testimony that was recanted and quite a few relations who attested to him not being within the Syracuse space when the homicide came about.

Some White Home officers objected to liberating Mr. Davidson when Ms. Johnson’s checklist of doable commutations was explored, however Mr. Trump granted it. (Ms. Schein’s husband, additionally a lawyer, had represented a few of Mr. Trump’s kids, however he was not concerned in Mr. Davidson’s effort and was attempting, unsuccessfully, for a clemency grant for another person.)

“It’s heartbreaking when a policeman is killed within the line of responsibility and I definitely perceive that individuals who have no idea all of the information of Jaime’s case can be upset on the commutation,” Ms. Schein mentioned. “It’s a tragedy, there’s no query about that. However there’s additionally a tragedy when an harmless man is convicted of a criminal offense he didn’t commit.”

Buddies of Mr. Howard and a few native officers have been troubled. It “didn’t set nicely with individuals right here,” mentioned John Corbett, a retired Syracuse police lieutenant and a pal of Officer Howard.

“I used to be very upset,” he mentioned. “All my pals, former co-workers — we have been all very upset.”



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