In speech to police chiefs in Chicago, Trump says city more dangerous than Afghanistan

CHICAGO — President Donald Trump launched a scathing attack on Chicago and its police chief on his first visit to the city while in office.

Comparing the city to Afghanistan, he spoke at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference at McCormick Place Monday.

“It’s embarrassing to us as a nation,” Trump said of Chicago in his speech. “All over the world, they’re talking about Chicago. Afghanistan is a safe place by comparison.”

Trump has frequently slammed Chicago for its crime problems and status as a sanctuary city, one of scores of cities around the country that refuse to work with federal authorities to round up people who are living in the U.S. illegally.

Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson, the host of a gathering of police chiefs from around the country, did not attend the speech because he said he opposes the administration’s immigration policies.

Trump called out Johnson in his speech saying “more than anyone else” Johnson should be at the conference because “maybe he could learn something.” Trump said he wants Johnson “to change his values and change them fast.”

Johnson is expected to address Trump’s comments at a 1:30 p.m. news conference.

The city’s mayor, Lori Lightfoot, also refused to meet with Trump. She’s criticized him in the past for proposing a rule that would allow federal contractors to make employment decisions based on religious convictions, and she’s pushed back against tweets from the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump about Chicago’s gun violence.

“It’s no surprise that @realDonaldTrump brought his insulting, ignorant buffoonery to Chicago,” Lightfoot said in a tweet Monday afternoon. “Luckily, in this city, we know the truth and we will not let anyone — no matter how high the office — denigrate who we are as a people or our status as a welcoming city.”

Also during his speech, Trump said the Justice Department will begin a stronger crackdown on violent crime in the United States.

“Let’s call it a surge,” he said.

Trump said the crackdown will be announced by Attorney General William Barr in the next few weeks. Barr was also in attendance at Trump’s address to the police chiefs. Trump said the best way to combat gun violence is to put criminals with firearms behind bars.

Trump concluded his speech by signing an executive order creating a commission to study the root causes of crime and implement the best ideas immediately.

Following his speech at McCormick Place, Trump will attend a fundraiser at Trump Tower that will be hosted by Todd Ricketts, the Republican National Committee Finance Chair, and part-owner of the Cubs.

Protesters are already gathering outside Trump Tower. Expect additional street closures.

The president is scheduled to leave O’Hare Airport around 2 p.m.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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