In a nearly three-minute meandering monologue, President Donald Trump described U.S. cities as hellscapes riddled with filth, blaming liberals for their supposed demise.
The speech came near the end of Trump’s Fox News interview in Japan that aired Monday night.
Shifting topics from the regulation of big tech to the cleanliness of cities, host Tucker Carlson said places like Osaka and Tokyo are “very different from our cities” because there’s “no graffiti, no one going to the bathroom on the street” and “you don’t see junkies.”
He took aim in particular at New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Trump replied that Carlson was describing “a phenomenon that started two years ago” in U.S. cities, saying “it’s disgraceful” and that he’s “looking at it very seriously.” He later asserted that “they’re usually sanctuary cities run by liberal people, and the states are run by very liberal people.”
“Police officers are getting sick just by walking the beat,” Trump said, adding, “The people living there are living in hell, too, although some of them have mental problems where they don’t even know they’re living that way. In fact, perhaps they like living that way.”
Trump said he “may intercede,” but provided no specifics on his efforts to combat the issue.
“We may do something to get that whole thing cleaned up,” he said. “It’s inappropriate. Now, we have to take the people and do something, we have to do something, and we’re really not very equipped as a government to be doing that kind of work.”
According to Department of Housing and Urban Development data released in 2018, the national rate of homelessness has actually trended downward for the past decade. From 2007 to 2018, it dropped by 15%.
However, major U.S. cities are indeed struggling with homelessness. According to point-in-time counts of the homeless population conducted annually, San Francisco has seen a 17% increase in homelessness over the past two years, while Los Angeles saw a 16% jump within just the past year.
A December 2018 HUD report showed that in New York City, homelessness increased nearly 3% from 2017 to 2018.
Trump implied in his interview that he had solved homelessness in Washington, D.C., at the start of his presidency, but provided no evidence to support that claim.
A May 2019 report from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, a nonprofit organization of area leaders, counted nearly 10,000 homeless people in the city.