If Monroe County Sheriff John Cary Bittick had any reservations about pursuing law enforcement priorities in Washington, President Trump encouraged him to press on.
“Go for it, just go for it,” Trump told Bittick during a 30-minute meeting Tuesday at the conference table in the Roosevelt Room at the White House.
In what the sheriffs called an unprecedented interaction with a U.S. president listening to their concerns, Trump went around the table and heard from a dozen leaders in the National Sheriffs’ Association.
About 25 minutes into Tuesday’s meeting, Bittick introduced himself to the new commander in chief as the sheriff of Monroe County, Georgia, and a past president of the sheriffs’ association and the current chairman of the governmental affairs committee.
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Video of the meeting was posted to a Fox affiliate’s YouTube channel.
Bittick began with praise for the new president.
“And I just want to thank you for the administration working, actually, on pieces of legislation and political ideas with us,” Bittick told Trump, who gave the Forsyth lawman his full attention.
“It’s refreshing, and we are thoroughly enjoying it,” Bittick said as the president sat with his hands clasped together on the table. “We are currently working with Senator (Chuck) Grassley on criminal justice reform issues, and the administration has been supporting us.”
Trump nodded as Bittick continued and stressed the importance of using seized assets. Earlier in the discussion, Sheriff John Aubrey of Jefferson County, Kentucky, raised concerns about the political push-back the Justice Department has gotten in recent years about seizing assets of drug dealers and other major criminals.
Critics of the practice argue there should be a criminal conviction before assets are seized as proceeds of a crime.
“OK, go for it, just go for it,” Trump told Bittick before conferring with acting U.S. Attorney General Dana Boente. “Dana will tell me if I can’t do it ...”
“Yes, sir, I think they got that message,” Bittick said, referencing an earlier part of the discussion.
“OK. Go for it. That’s great,” Trump said.
“We appreciate it, and we appreciate your ear, and we appreciate you taking the time to sit down and at least talk to us,” Bittick said.
“I appreciate it too. Thank you, John,” the president said.
Trump put his left arm on Bittick’s shoulder as the group headed to the Oval Office for a photo opportunity.
Bittick patted Trump’s back as they left the room.