Report: White House Doesn't Rule Out Obama Trip To Ferguson

Report: White House Doesn't Rule Out Obama Trip To Ferguson

A presidential visit to Ferguson, Missouri, is not off the table, The Hill reported on Tuesday.

A senior administration official didn't rule out a trip to the St. Louis suburb, now in its second week of protests over the fatal shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown, but the White House currently has no plans for President Barack Obama to visit the troubled community.

The president didn't say whether he would visit Ferguson when asked by a reporter on Monday, stressing only that ongoing investigations precluded him from going into the details on the matter.

"Short term, obviously, right now what we have to do is to make sure that the cause of justice and fair administration of the law is being brought to bear in Ferguson," he said during a press conference at the White House. "In order to do that, we’ve got to make sure that we are able to distinguish between peaceful protesters who may have some legitimate grievances and maybe longstanding grievances, and those who are using this tragic death as an excuse to engage in criminal behavior -- and tossing Molotov cocktails, or looting stores."

Two Missouri Democrats on Tuesday panned the idea, citing security concerns that a presidential visit would involve amid regular clashes that led Gov. Jay Nixon (D) to call in the National Guard.

"It adds another distortion. We don't need that now. And we don't need any more people coming into Ferguson to help the poor people out during this time of trouble," Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) said on MSNBC. "What we need is a sense of calm and anything other than that is going to be dangerous."

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) echoed Cleaver, and added that it would place an undue burden on police who are already struggling to contain the protests.

"A presidential visit requires a lot of security from local officials," she said. "Right now our local officials have their hands full. It is a very bad time for a presidential visit for the practical reasons -- many of these people are not getting enough sleep. We are really taxing all of the jurisdictions on the police forces."

Obama announced Monday that he was sending Attorney General Eric Holder to Ferguson to meet with federal law enforcement authorities who are conducting an investigation into the death of Brown.

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