Trump: 'Afghanistan is a safe place by comparison' to Chicago

Dylan Stableford

President Trump used his first trip to Chicago as president to publicly disparage the city and its police chief, who had boycotted his appearance.

“It’s embarrassing to us as a nation, all over the world they’re talking about Chicago,” Trump said Monday in a speech at the International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Conference. “Afghanistan is a safe place by comparison.”

Before the event, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told reporters that he would not attend Trump’s speech in protest of what he called the president’s “racial insults.”

“I can’t in good conscience stand by while racial insults and hatred are cast from the Oval Office or Chicago is held hostage because of our views on new Americans,” Johnson said.

Trump scolded Johnson in response, blaming him for not stemming violent crime.

“Since Eddie Johnson has been police chief, more than 1,500 have been murdered in Chicago,” Trump said. “And 13,067 people have been shot.”

Violent crime in Chicago has actually been on the decline since 2016, the year Johnson was appointed superintendent. According to the Chicago Tribune, homicides and shootings in 2019 are down 11 percent from this time a year ago. And the number of shootings is down more than 26 percent this year compared with 2016.

And according to Chicago Police Department data cited by the Associated Press, the number of homicides in the city has dropped 31 percent thus far in 2019, compared with the same point in 2016, and shooting incidents have decreased by 38 percent over that same period.

During a press briefing later Monday, Johnson touted the reductions in crime on his watch.

“The progress that we’ve made as a city has gone unnoticed,” Johnson said. “We’re certainly not where we want to be, but we’ve made progress. ... The national narrative that we’re a city on fire is just simply not true.”

“Today the same police officers the president criticized for their inability to protect this city spent all day protecting him,” Johnson continued.

“My job is to keep the city safe,” he added. “I’ve been a cop 31 years, I’ve been a superintendent for four years. I’ve dedicated my life to keeping this city safe. And that is my focus.”

President Trump and Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson. (Photos: Leah Millis/Reuters, Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
President Trump and Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson (Photos: Leah Millis/Reuters, Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

The president also criticized Johnson for failing to detain undocumented immigrants.

“Eddie Johnson wants to talk about values,” Trump said. “People like Johnson put criminals and illegal aliens before the citizens of Chicago. And those are his values. And frankly those values to me are a disgrace. ... I want Eddie Johnson to change his values and change them fast.”

The president said Johnson’s support of so-called sanctuary cities, like Chicago, is “a betrayal of the oath of the shield” and “a violation of his duty to serve and to protect.”

During his hourlong speech, Trump also invoked the case of actor Jussie Smollett, who claimed he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack by men who yelled “MAGA country,” a reference to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan. Police later concluded that Smollett staged the attack.

The president said Smollett “beat up himself.”

“And he said ‘MAGA country’ did it,” Trump said. “It’s a hate crime.”

Trump also compared the Smollett incident to the impeachment inquiry against him launched by House Democrats.

“It's a real big scam, just like the impeachment of your president is a scam,” he added.

Earlier in his remarks, Trump touted the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the ISIS terror leader who was killed in a U.S. raid in Syria over the weekend.

Trump called al-Baghdadi a “sick and depraved man.”

“And now he’s dead,” the president said. “He’s dead as a doornail.”

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