President Donald Trump and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler traded criticism on Sunday as each blamed the other for the rise in violence in the city after a fatal shooting Saturday night that followed an afternoon and evening of clashes between Trump supporters and protesters. Trump began the attack early against the mayor of the city that he has turned into a rallying cry for his campaign as he pushes a message of law and order. The president retweeted a post that used a profanity to describe Wheeler as “the useless fucking idiot and comic relief that gets everyone killed in every disaster movie.” Trump suggested the person who sent the tweet “tone down the language” but agreed the statement was “TRUE.” He also retweeted without comment a tweet that accused Wheeler of “committing war crimes.”
Throughout the day, Trump continued on his Twitter spree, attacking Democrats in general but with a specific focus on the Portland mayor, retweeting a message that included Wheeler’s office phone number and urging people to call him to tell him to resign. Another tweet said Wheeler has “blood” on his hands.
Trump didn’t just retweet. He also sent out a tweet in which he called Wheeler a “FOOL,” writing that the “backlash going on in Portland cannot be unexpected” after three months of protests.
Wheeler did not stay silent, and in a news conference calling on protesters to avoid violence, the two men ended up almost sparring in real time, with the president tweeting while the mayor was on television. “Do you seriously wonder, Mr. President, why this is the first time in decades that America has seen this level of violence?” Wheeler said. “It’s you who have created the hate and the division.” Wheeler said he’d “appreciate either the president support us or he stay the hell out of the way.”
Trump live-tweeted in response, calling Wheeler a “wacky Radical Left Do Nothing Democrat Mayor of Portland.” He went on to threaten stronger action in Portland. “He would like to blame me and the Federal Government for going in, but he hasn’t seen anything yet,” Trump added. A reporter asked Wheeler to respond. “It’s classic Trump. Mr. President, how can you think a comment like that, if you’re watching this, is in any way helpful?” Wheeler said.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden also slammed Trump, accusing him of “fanning the flames of hate and division in our society” and “recklessly encouraging violence” as he condemned the violence in Portland.