Donald Trump

Controversial US sheriff David Clarke withdraws from top post in Trump administration

Controversial Wisconsin sheriff does not now want to be considered for homeland security assistant secretary position

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 June, 2017, 1:47pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 June, 2017, 9:38pm

David Clarke, the controversial sheriff and self-described “Trumpster”, has removed himself from consideration for a senior position at the department of homeland security.

Clarke, who is the Milwaukee, Wisconsin county sheriff, was expected to become assistant secretary at homeland security by the end of June.

But Craig Peterson, an adviser to Clarke, told the Washington Post that Clarke “formally notified secretary of homeland security John Kelly that he had rescinded his acceptance of the agency’s offer to join DHS”.

“Sheriff Clarke is 100 per cent committed to the success of President Trump and believes his skills could be better utilised to promote the president’s agenda in a more aggressive role.”

Significant delays to his appointment reportedly contributed to Clarke’s withdrawal.

Clarke strongly backed Donald Trump during the US presidential election and compared Black Lives Matter to the Ku Klux Klan. He said black Americans sell drugs “because they’re uneducated, they’re lazy, and they’re morally bankrupt”.

At Trump’s inauguration celebrations in January, Clarke told a crowd the only time he would reach across the aisle to work with liberals would be to “grab one of them by the throat”.

“I play smash-mouth politics,” he told the Guardian in March.

“Politics is a contact sport. I didn’t create the rules. It’s hit or be hit. I understand the environment. People are trying to slit my throat politically and personally, so you better be ready when they come after you.”

Watch: Sheriff David Clarke accused of plagiarism

He was accused of plagiarism, which he denied, and has been criticised for alleged neglect in his law enforcement position following the deaths of four inmates at the Milwaukee County jail in the past year. One of the deaths, in which a 38-year-old with bipolar disorder died of dehydration after his water supply had been shut off for six days in response to his erratic behaviour, was ruled a homicide.

Clarke called the storm over the jail deaths a “manufactured issue. This is a disguised political attack. Four deaths in a jail, yeah, OK, there were four deaths in a jail, not connected in any way. People die in hospitals, people die in nursing homes, people die – doesn’t mean we had anything to with it.”

Trump met Clarke on Tuesday, Peterson said, and they discussed other roles in which he could support the president.

“The sheriff is reviewing options inside and outside of government,” Peterson said.

“Sheriff Clarke told secretary Kelly he is very appreciative of the tremendous opportunity the secretary was offering, and expressed his support for the secretary and the agency.”

Additional reporting by The Washington Post