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Donald Trump America First Policy Institute
Former President Donald Trump speaks during the America First Agenda Summit organized by America First Policy Institute AFPI on Tuesday in Washington, D.C.Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post via Getty Images

Why Trump’s attempted ‘policy speech’ was such an ugly mess

Watching Trump's speech, the disconnect between the messenger and the message was jarring: Those accused of crimes shouldn’t pretend to be tough on crime.

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The headline on an Associated Press report yesterday told readers that Donald Trump would deliver a “policy speech” at the America First Policy Institute’s first annual summit. As the guy who literally wrote the book on Trump’s Republicans becoming a post-policy party, I was eager to see the former president’s substantive pitch.

Alas, he didn’t have much of one to offer. Politico reported:

In his speech, Trump painted a picture of America in decay, describing in gruesome detail crimes in cities across the country. He called for hiring more police officers, bringing back controversial “stop and frisk” policies and giving drug dealers the death penalty.

As part of the same pitch, the former president envisioned a system in which a White House could deploy National Guard troops over the wishes of state officials, and a president could establish tent towns on the outskirts of urban areas where the government would relocate homeless people.

Right off the bat, let’s get the most obvious problem out of the way: This wasn’t a “policy speech.” Trump was just recycling some of the same phrases and ideas that were staples of his 2016 candidacy. I half expected him to start decrying “American carnage.”

The only thing resembling a new idea was the creation of Hooverville-like tent cities — as if anyone would be reassured by an authoritarian-style leader deploying officials to relocate those deemed “undesirable.”

USA Today quoted national security lawyer Bradley P. Moss saying, “The former president is delivering a straight up fascist and authoritarian speech, complete with executions, military takeovers and forcible re-locations of citizens.”

What’s more, the fact that Trump even traveled to Washington, D.C., to deliver this speech was, to a very real degree, ridiculous. This was, after all, the scene of the crime for the Republican. It was just last year when he tried to overturn the results of an election defeat, effectively participating in a failed coup.

Strolling back into the city to lie some more — Trump called the 2020 results a “disgrace” before again pretending that he won — as if this were somehow normal was as surreal as it was indefensible.

But just as jarring was the disconnect between the messenger and the message: Suspected criminals shouldn’t pretend to be tough on crime.

As we discussed earlier, Trump’s business is facing multiple fraud investigations. He’s also under investigation for having allegedly mishandled classified materials. There’s also an ongoing criminal investigation in Georgia related to his efforts to interfere with election results. There’s also a criminal investigation surrounding his special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).

Trump has also sided with Jan. 6 criminals, many of whom attacked the police, and abused his pardon powers in support of politically connected felons.

This guy wants to be seen as a fierce opponent of crime? Please.