WASHINGTON (WJLA) — During his first trip back to Washington, D.C. since leaving the White House 19 months ago, former President Donald Trump said the country is "going to hell" while the nation's capital has become unrecognizable amid tent cities, filthy streets, surging violent crime, and other "scourges."
“What I saw today coming in. The streets were dirty, they were littered with paper," Trump remarked. "They had more bottles and cigarettes, everything you could imagine. Paper, of all kinds, from all places, lying along the road... And then you look at the tents with the homeless and you say, 'what's happening to this great bastion?'"
Trump's more than 90-minute speech took place inside of a large ballroom at the Marriott Marquis hotel along Massachusetts Avenue Northwest. His appearance was part of the America First Policy Institute's two-day America First Agenda Summit.
No civilized society turns over its public spaces to be dominated by drug addicts and the homeless, no matter what the reason may be. If liberals think it’s somehow compassionate, let them invite the homeless to camp in their backyards, soil their property, attack their families, and use drugs where their children are trying to play.”
Trump suggested that visible tent cities — including the one directly across the street from the Marriott Marquis — project a look of weakness on the world stage.
"Who is going to want to come to Washington, DC? And perhaps even more importantly, when a foreign leader comes and has meetings here, it leaves such a bad impression. They go home and say, 'what kind of a country has the United States turned into?' And you don't think that gets around?"
Trump estimated there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people, who are currently living on city streets nationwide. He proposed creating more permanent tent cities on the outskirts of large metropolitan areas to make downtown districts from Seattle to Los Angeles to New York City "clean, safe, and beautiful again."
Open up large parcels of inexpensive land in the outer reaches of the cities, bring medical professionals, including doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, drug rehab specialists, bring permanent bathrooms and other facilities, make them good, make them hard, but build them fast, and create thousands and thousands of high-quality tents, which can be done in one day. And you have to move people out. And some people say, 'Oh, that's horrible.' No, what's horrible is what's happening now."
Trump said creating permanent affordable housing for hundreds of thousands of homeless would take years, which he argued, society does not have on its side. Trump suggested the news media would accuse him of trying to build tent cities when in reality he is trying to help the common man, he opined.
“It will be the ambition of these people, and all of us, to get their life back on track, leave the tent city, and be back into the mainstream of society, which is where they want to be. It's a great thing."
Trump's speech delved into other hot-button political topics including rising crime and drug dealing. He rattled off a long list of violent, stranger-on-stranger offenses in cities all across the country and pointed out that most are run by Democratic governments.
Our streets are riddled with needles and soaked with the blood of innocent victims. Many of our once-great cities, from New York to Chicago to LA, where the middle class used to flock to live the American dream, are now war zones. Literal war zones. Every day there are stabbings, rapes, murders, and violent assaults of every kind imaginable.”
In 2021, DC Police recorded 226 homicides, the most on record since 2003 when 248 people were murdered in the District. Other local jurisdictions including Montgomery and Prince George's Counties also recorded large increases in killings, among other crime types.
"We are living in such a different country for one primary reason. There is no longer respect for the law and there certainly is no order. Our country is now a cesspool of crime."
Trump recalled speaking with Chinese President Xi Jinping about illegal narcotics and claimed Jinping was perplexed by America's addiction to drugs like heroin and fentanyl. Trump proposed capital punishment for people who deal drugs.
If you look at countries throughout the world, the ones that don’t have a drug problem are those that institute a very quick trial, death penalty sentence for drug dealers. It sounds horrible, doesn’t it? But you know what? Those are the ones that don’t have any problems. It doesn’t take 15 years in court. It goes quickly... You execute a drug dealer and you’ll save 500 lives because they kill, on average, 500 people.”
Trump further called for a return to stop and frisk policies to cut down on crime, arguing that it "worked brilliantly" in the past. Trump highlighted 9.1 percent inflation, record-high gas prices, and illegal immigration.
“Illegal aliens are stampeding across our wide-open borders, pouring into our country. It’s an invasion.”
Trump said the GOP is poised to regain control of the U.S. Congress this year and predicted that a Republican would swoop back into the Oval Office come 2024. The 76-year-old New York native, however, stopped short of sharing his precise political plans.
“This November, the people are going to vote to stop the destruction of our country, and they’re going to vote to rescue America’s future," Trump remarked. “Our country is going to hell. It’s going to hell very fast. It’s a very unsafe place.”
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., called Trump's law-and-order-themed speech, hypocritical.
The expectation is that he's going to talk about law enforcement, which to me is just the most brazen, scandalous thing after he unleashed the mob that assaulted, well hundreds of our officers and injured, wounded, hospitalized, more than 150 of them and ended up with everything from lost fingers and heart attacks and strokes to broken jaws and necks to traumatic brain injury," Raskin stated. "I still have constituents who are officers and are recovering from their injuries and wounds and are in physical therapy twice a week. So, the idea that he would dare to utter one word about law enforcement... is just appalling to me."