Trump seemingly boasts about executing an American without trial

President Trump.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Getty Images, iStock)

In one barely remarked upon moment of the debate Tuesday night, President Trump seemingly boasted about the police killing of Michael Reinoehl. "I sent in the U.S. Marshals to get the killer of a young man … They took care of business," he gloated.

The background here is that Reinoehl allegedly shot and killed Aaron Danielson, a member of the right-wing group Patriot Prayer, during violent clashes in Portland that Patriot Prayer and other Trump supporters deliberately incited. Reinoehl seemingly told Vice that the killing was in self-defense, but when he was found by Washington state police and U.S. marshals, they shot him to death within seconds.

Two witnesses and the police said that Reinoehl pointed a gun at them, but another witness said that Reinoehl was simply executed by police without any kind of warning or attempt at arrest, and one of the first two witnesses has since recanted his story. (The police, of course, are notoriously dishonest about their use of force.) At a minimum, it is disturbingly plausible to believe this was a straight-up political assassination.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

At any rate, Trump clearly does not care that Reinoehl was killed without trial or due process of any kind. In an earlier interview on Fox News, he said, "This guy was a violent criminal, and the U.S. Marshals killed him. And I'll tell you something — that's the way it has to be. There has to be retribution." Naturally, Trump has also defended Kyle Rittenhouse, the Trump-supporting vigilante who shot three people in Kenosha, Wisconsin, two of them fatally.

Whether someone is a violent criminal or a decent person seemingly hinges on only one thing in Trump's mind: whether they support him politically.

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.

Ryan Cooper

Ryan Cooper is a national correspondent at His work has appeared in the Washington Monthly, The New Republic, and the Washington Post.