CHICAGO – While reveling in the weekend death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, President Donald Trump used a law enforcement speech Monday to blast Chicago’s police superintendent, the actor Jussie Smollett, and Democrats seeking his impeachment.
Attacking Smollett’s unfounded allegations of an assault he blamed on Trump supporters, the president told the International Association of Police Chiefs: “That’s a hate crime, it’s a scam – just like the impeachment of your president is a scam.”
Trump also took after Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who skipped the president’s speech to the police chiefs’ group over his immigration policy.
Describing Johnson’s comments as “insulting,” Trump blamed Chicago’s high crime rate on Johnson and said he should have attended the chiefs’ meeting because “maybe he could learn something.”
“I want Eddie Johnson to change his values and change them fast,” Trump said.
Announcing his decision last week to boycott Trump’s appearance, Johnson referred to immigration as well as the president’s past comments about people of color.
“As police officers, our job is to be the voice for the voiceless and ambassadors to the communities that we serve,” he said. “I can’t in good conscience stand by while racial insults and hatred are cast from the Oval Office or Chicago is held hostage because of our views on new Americans.”
The crowd at the annual conference of the International Association of Chiefs of Police whooped it up for Trump. Some of the loudest cheers came when Trump discussed the weekend military raid in Syria that led to the suicide of al-Baghdadi, who as head of ISIS encouraged followers to attack U.S. and western targets.
“He was a sick and depraved man, and now he’s dead,” Trump said to the cheers and laughter that accelerated when he added: “He’s dead as a doornail.”
In discussing his law enforcement record, from a new criminal justice reform bill to his proposed wall, Trump’s appearance took on the air of a campaign event.
Beforehand, as Trump approached the convention center complex in southern Chicago, the PA system played the same song as at Trump campaign rallies, including The Rolling Stones’ “Play With Fire,” Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” and Aerosmith’s “Dream On.”
“It’s the president’s playlist,” said Paul Cell, president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, in introducing Trump. He told the delegates that the music was selected to “get us excited about his presence here today.”
After the speech to police, Trump headed uptown for a campaign fundraiser that Republicans hope will raise $4 million.
Protests against Trump were expected throughout the city. The Chicago Police Department beefed up security by canceling regular days off for some 1,800 officers.
In addressing the police chief’s group, Trump said no one has been a bigger champion of law enforcement than him. He said he has fought back against politicians who like to denigrate police officers.
After the speech, surrounded by officers in uniform, Trump signed an executive order to create a new commission to “address some of the systemic challenges” facing law enforcement. Those include homelessness and mentally ill people who roam the streets, he said.
“You don’t hear it enough,” Trump told the law enforcement officials. “You do an incredible job.”
Before boarding Air Force One for the trip to Chicago, Trump told reporters he is thinking of releasing parts of the video of the raid on al-Baghdadi’s compound.
It was “a great weekend for the country,” Trump said. “We captured a man who should have been captured long ago.”
Trump also said he did not inform members of Congress before the raid because he was worried about leaks. He singled out Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and called him “the biggest leaker in Washington.”
Schiff is also leading the impeachment investigation of Trump over claims he abused his authority by asking a foreign country – Ukraine – to investigate one of his political opponents, Joe Biden.
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