President-Elect Joe Biden said the “defund the police’ movement “beat the living hell” out of Democrats’ chances to win elections in Congress this cycle, according to audio from The Intercept.
Biden made the comment on a Tuesday phone call with civil rights leaders, audio of which Intercept obtained and published Thursday.
Biden has long opposed defunding the police, saying on the campaign trail that he supports increased funding to police to support additional training and specialized personnel. He argued Republicans used the slogan that swept the nation this spring and summer as a cudgel in congressional races.
“That’s how they beat the living hell out of us across the country, saying that we’re talking about defunding the police. We’re not. We’re talking about holding them accountable,” Biden said according to the audio. (RELATED: Rising Violence Prompts Minneapolis City Officials To Consider Asking Nearby Officers For Support)
Biden also expressed fear that Democrats could throw away their chances at winning the Senate runoff elections in Georgia by doubling down on the same message. He told the civil rights leaders not to get “too far ahead of ourselves.”
“We can go very far. It matters how we do it. I think it matters how we do it,” Biden said. “I just raise it with you to think about how much do we push between now and January 5 — we need those two seats — about police reform. But I guarantee you, there will be a full-blown commission. I guarantee you it’s a major, major, major element.”
The civil rights leaders also urged Biden to use his executive authority to make orders implementing many of the Black Lives Matter movement’s goals. Biden said he wouldn’t be willing to go beyond his authority as president, however, and touched on the gun control issue as well.
“I am not going to violate the Constitution,” Biden can be heard saying. “Where I have executive authority, I will use it to undo every single damn thing this guy’s done by executive authority. But I’m not going to exercise executive authority where it’s a question where, I can come along and say, I can do away with assault weapons. There’s no executive authority to do that. And no one has fought harder to get rid of assault weapons than me, me. You can’t do it by executive order.”