Harris Faulkner asks Trump why he tweeted 'when the looting starts, the shooting starts'

In an exclusive Fox News interview on race relations and police brutality, President Trump defended his social media-based response to nationwide protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.

Sitting down one-on-one with "Outnumbered Overtime" host Harris Faulkner, Trump said that a controversial tweet -- sent ahead of some of the most raucous clashes between his citizens and law enforcement officers -- was an "expression" he had commonly heard over the years.

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“Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” he wrote on May 28.

In what was then unprecedented action, Twitter later limited the public's ability to view and share the tweet for "glorifying violence."

"You know...you look at me and I'm Harris on TV, but I'm black woman. I'm a mom. And, you know, you've talked about it but we haven't seen you come out and be that consoler in this instance. And, the tweets -- you know -- 'when the looting starts, the shooting starts.' Why those words?" asked Faulkner.

“So, that’s an expression I’ve heard over the years," Trump replied.

“Do you know where it comes from?” Faulkner interjected.

“I think Philadelphia – the mayor of Philadelphia,” Trump said.

"No, It comes from 1967," Faulkner corrected. "I was about 18 months old at the time...But it was from the chief of police in Miami. He was cracking down, and he meant what he said. And he said, ‘I don’t even care if it makes it look like brutality I’m going to crack down. When the looting starts, the shooting starts.''”

"That frightened a lot of people when you tweeted that," she noted.

The president alleged the expression came from Frank Rizzo. Rizzo had served as Philadelphia's police commissioner from 1968 to 1971 and followed up with a stint as mayor from 1972 to 1980. He was initially a Democrat but changed his party allegiance ahead of his death in 1991.

Rizzo was tough on crime during his tenure, but has long been criticized for his mistreatment of black and gay communities in the "City of Brotherly Love."

Earlier this month, after being repeatedly targeted and defaced by protesters, a statue of Rizzo was removed by the city. Democratic Mayor Jim Kenney called it “a deplorable monument to racism, bigotry, and police brutality for members of the Black community, the LGBTQ community, and many others.”

In this Saturday, May 30, 2020 photo police stand near a vandalized statue of controversial former Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo in Philadelphia, during protests over the death of George Floyd, who died May 25 after he was restrained by Minneapolis police. Workers early Wednesday, June 3 removed the statue which was recently defaced during the weekend protest. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

In this Saturday, May 30, 2020 photo police stand near a vandalized statue of controversial former Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo in Philadelphia, during protests over the death of George Floyd, who died May 25 after he was restrained by Minneapolis police. Workers early Wednesday, June 3 removed the statue which was recently defaced during the weekend protest. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The original quote to which Trump was referring came from Miami Police Chief Walter Headley. During a news conference "declaring war" on criminals, Headley warned that officers would use firearms and police dogs to combat chaos in the streets.

“We don’t mind being accused of police brutality," he admitted to reporters.

“I’ve let the word filter down that when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” Headley remarked.

Trump told Faulkner he believed Headley's quote means "two very different things."

"One is if there's looting, there's probably going to be shooting. And, that's not as a threat. That's really just a fact, because that's what happens," he explained. "And, the other is: if there's looting, there's going to be shooting. There's very...very different meanings."

"But I think you think most people see it that way," Faulkner responded.

"I think they see it both ways. I mean, I've had it viewed both ways. I think it's meant both ways, not by the same person. But, when the looting starts, it oftentimes means there's going to be... sure, there's going to be death, there's going to be killing. And, it's a bad thing. And, it's also used as a threat. It's used both ways. But, if you think about it, look what happened, how people were devastated with the looting. Look at what happened," Trump urged. "It was devastating."

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According to The Washington Post, Headley's remark has been echoed by other public figures, including former Alabama governor and presidential candidate George Wallace. It's uncertain as to whether Rizzo ever uttered the words.