President Donald Trump touted his commitment to law enforcement in Orlando on Monday, urging Chicago to adopt controversial “stop-and-frisk” policies and calling the critics and accusers of newly appointed U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh “evil people.”
“My administration will always cherish and support the men and women in blue and we are proud to do it,” Trump told hundreds of law enforcement officials gathered for a convention of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
“We will always have your back, now and forever,” the president promised.
It was an official, non-political event. Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi joined Trump at the Orange County Convention Center but not Trump-backed gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis.
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Scott hailed the Trump administration’s support during previous hurricanes, and said he was working closely with the president again for Hurricane Michael.
“It looks like another big one, but we’ve handled them well,” Trump said.
Trump gave a more somber speech than he does at political rallies, but he still slipped in some inflammatory asides.
The media does not report about how much the country loves law enforcement, he said, as many in the crowd applauded his criticism.
Democrats do not provide adequate support for law enforcement: “The Democrats fight us at every turn, whether it’s law enforcement or military.”
He decried “disgraceful” politicians who criticize police actions.
“For too many years we have watched politicians escalate political attacks on our courageous police officers, and I’ve never seen it more than over the last few years,”he said. “Politicians who spread this dangerous, anti-police sentiment make life easier for criminals and more dangerous for law-abiding citizens.”
U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, whom Trump was widely reported to be on the verge of firing, joined the president on Air Force One. Trump said, “we had a very good talk,” without elaborating.
He did say that he had directed the U.S. Attorney General to “immediately go to the great city of Chicago to help straighten out the terrible shooting wave.”
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is a staunch critic of Trump, and Chicago’s crime problem is a frequent focus of Fox News and the president.
He called on the city to institute the stop-and-frisk policies that started in New York under former Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The policy allowed officers to stop, question, and frisk people they suspect might be involved in a crime. Critics call it racist and ineffective.
“Rudy Giuliani, when he was mayor of New York City, had a very strong program of stop and frisk, and it went from an unacceptably dangerous city to one of the safest cities in the country, and I think the safest big city in the country, so it works,” Trump said. “It’s got to be properly applied, but stop and frisk works. The crime spree is a terrible blight on that city, and we’ll do everything possible to get it done.”
Trump drew applause from the convention attendees when he hailed Kavanaugh as a man who will defend the Constitution.
The president recalled his comments to Kavanaugh after nominating him to the Supreme Court.
“I said, ‘Brett, congratulations. This is going to be a piece of cake getting you confirmed,’ “ he said to laughter. “He was so thankful. He said, ‘Mr. President this is the greatest honor of my life’ … I haven’t heard him say that again to me.”
Trump decried the “false charges, false accusations, horrible statements that were totally untrue, that he knew nothing about.”
“It was a disgraceful situation brought about by people that were evil, and he toughed it out.”