Speaking to reporters outside the Oval Office, he declared a national emergency over the non–national emergency of his wanting a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. In a typically rambling speech, he also touched on his continued obsession with wanting to kill people who sell drugs.
“Last year 70,000 Americans were killed, at least — I think the number is ridiculously low — by drugs, including meth and heroin and cocaine, fentanyl,” Trump said before describing a meeting he had with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“[China’s] criminal list is much tougher than our criminal list,” Trump said. “Their criminal list, a drug dealer gets a thing called the death penalty, our criminal list a drug dealer gets a thing called how bout a fine? And when I asked President Xi, I said, ‘Do you have a drug problem?’ ‘No, no, no.’ I said, ‘You have 1.4 billion people. What do you mean you don’t have a drug problem?’ ‘No, we don’t have a drug problem.’ I said, ‘Why?’ ‘Death penalty, we give death penalty to people that sell drugs. End of problem.’ What do we do? We set up a blue ribbon committees. Lovely men and women, they sit around a table, they have lunch, they eat, they dine, and they waste a lot of time. So if we want to get smart, we can get smart. You can end the drug problem. You can end it a lot faster than you think.”
At a campaign rally last March, Trump told supporters that executing drug dealers is “a discussion we have to start thinking about.” In that speech, he praised Singapore and China for their zero-tolerance policies on dealing drugs.
“That means if we catch a drug dealer, death penalty,” he said of Singapore, recalling a conversation he had with the country’s president. “And they don’t have a problem.”
The comments fly in the face of the First Step Act, a bipartisan bill that would overhaul prison sentencing laws that Trump endorsed in November. The bill would help rehabilitate federal inmates for a life outside prison by expanding employment opportunities and incentivizing their participation in rehabilitation programs and would institute “reasonable sentencing reforms,” he said at the time.
“We’re all better off when former inmates can receiver and re-enter society as law-abiding, productive citizens,” he said at the time.
But just one month later, Trump tweeted his desire to kill drug dealers, saying that “the results will be incredible!”