US is now a cesspool of crime, says Trump in major speech upon return to Washington

Former US president Donald Trump speaking at the America First Policy Institute in Washington on July 26, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON - In a major speech on his first return to Washington since leaving office in 2020, former president Donald Trump on Tuesday (July 26) painted a grim picture of a United States plagued by rising crime, drug addiction, homelessness, and illegal immigrants flooding across the "gaping wound" of the southern border.

"Our country is now a cesspool of crime," he said. "It has to stop and it has to stop now."

Mr Trump, 76, who has been teasing a run for the presidency again in 2024, spent most of his roughly 90-minute speech prescribing drastic measures to combat violent crime, drugs and homelessness.

The speech capped a two-day event at the America First Policy Institute, an organisation started just last year and mostly populated by former top Trump administration officials.

Mr Trump said the US is in a state of decline and decay, in what was, in many respects, a reprise of his "American Carnage" 2017 inauguration speech.

"Murder in our country is up 51 per cent," he said, relating incidents of gruesome violent crime. "There is no longer respect for the law, and there certainly is no order."

The police should be funded and empowered to clean up crime, and organised tent settlements should be set up on the outskirts of towns to accommodate the homeless with proper care, Mr Trump said.

On illegal immigrants, he added that America had become a dumping ground for criminals from other countries.

"We're a war zone," he said, adding that the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers should be increased to deal with "vicious" illegal immigrants engaging in criminal activities.

"We need an all-out effort to defeat violent crime, and be tough and nasty and mean if we have to" he said.

The former president also voiced support for the death penalty for drug dealers.

"You take a look at every country in this world that doesn't have a problem with drugs, they have a very strong death penalty for people that sell drugs," he said.

Citing Singapore as an example, Mr Trump said: "You look at Singapore, you look at places that have the drug penalty and they have no drug problem... You execute a drug dealer and you'll save 500 lives."

In an interview late last month with BBC journalist Stephen Sackur, Singapore's Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam said capital punishment is one aspect of a whole series of measures that Singapore has to deal with the drug abuse problem. It is imposed because there is clear evidence that it is a serious deterrent for would-be drug traffickers.

During his speech, Mr Trump stopped short of announcing a run at the presidency, but constantly hinted at it, saying that America was poised for a comeback.

"We will make America stronger, safer, freer, greater and more glorious than ever before," he said.

Mr Trump made only one mention of the House Select Committee that has been holding hearings into the Jan 6, 2020 attack on the Capitol by a mob of his supporters, lumping it together with what he said was the Democrats' "disinformation".

He also referred to the 2020 presidential election, which he disputed, as a "catastrophe" and "disgrace". He insisted that the election was rigged and "stolen" from him. No evidence of that has emerged, however - as many as 60 legal challenges have been dismissed by various courts.

Mr Trump's criticism on the country's state of law and order drew a rare rebuke from President Joe Biden.

"Call me old-fashioned, but I don't think inciting a mob that attacks a police officer is 'respect for the law'," Mr Biden said on Twitter.

"Brave women and men in uniform across America should never forget that the defeated former president of the United States watched Jan 6 happen and didn't have the spine to act."

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