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Trump responds to falling crime rates in a decidedly Trumpian way

Donald Trump doesn’t want to believe that crime rates went down, which is why he said all evidence reflecting reality must be dismissed as “fake."

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Despite bizarre Republican rhetoric about “skyrocketing” crime rates, all of the recent news on the issue has been quite encouraging. Axios reported a few weeks ago, for example, that the number of homicides in major American cities “is falling at its quickest pace in decades.” The report added that the United States is now “on track to see one of the lowest levels of violent crimes and homicides since President Obama was in office.”

The reporting came on the heels of a related NBC News reported on the latest FBI data, which confirmed “that crime in the U.S. declined significantly in 2023, continuing a post-pandemic trend and belying widespread perceptions that crime is rising.”

And what, pray tell, does Donald Trump think about the good news? Time magazine reported this week:

On the campaign trail, Trump uses crime as a cudgel, painting urban America as a savage hell-scape even though violent crime has declined in recent years, with homicides sinking 6% in 2022 and 13% in 2023, according to the FBI. When I point this out, Trump tells me he thinks the data, which is collected by state and local police departments, is rigged.

To fully appreciate how the former president approached the issue, it’s worth reading the transcript of his interview with Time’s Eric Cortellessa. The reporter noted in passing, before even asking a question, that violent crime is “going down throughout the country.”

Trump interrupted to say, “I don’t believe it.” Asked for clarification, the presumptive GOP nominee insisted that he considers the crime data to be “fake numbers.”

Cortellessa pointed to the FBI’s findings, at which point Trump again said, “No, it’s a lie. It’s fake news.”

The reporter, to his great credit, reminded the candidate, “Sir, these numbers are collected by state and local police departments across the country. Most of them support you. Are they wrong?” This was an exceedingly smart question because it put Trump in a difficult position: Was he prepared to say that local police departments, which he occasionally claims to support, are engaged in a conspiracy to mislead the public with bogus statistics?

“Well, maybe, maybe not,” Trump replied. “The FBI fudged the numbers and other people fudged numbers. There is no way that crime went down over the last year.”

It’s a classic look at how the former president sees the world. He doesn’t want to believe that crime rates went down. Therefore, in Trump’s mind, crime rates didn’t go down.

Presented with evidence from law enforcement officials that crimes rates really did go down, the Republican did what he always does: Trump rejected the proof as “fake,” and accused those responsible for producing accurate data of being part of a conspiracy that only he understands.

It’s the Trumpian approach to reality, perfectly captured in less than a minute.