Former President Donald Trump called for drug traffickers to receive the death penalty among a string of tough policies on crime during his first speech in Washington since leaving office on Tuesday.
He made the remarks while speaking at a summit led by the America First Policy Institute, which includes many former government officials.
Trump used his speech to talk about rising crime rates, although there is some evidence that gun violence is worse in Republican states. The former president called for “very, very severe” penalties.
“If you look at the countries of the world, the ones that don’t have a drug problem are the ones that institute a very quick trial death penalty for drug dealers,” he said.
Trump acknowledged that it felt horrible to carry out quick executions, but said it was better than having someone on death row for several years.
“You execute a drug dealer and save 500 lives, because they kill an average of 500 people,” he said. “It’s terrible to say, but you look at all the countries in this world that don’t have a drug problem, they have a very strong death penalty for people who sell drugs.”
The former president said he spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping and asked if the country had a drug problem, which the Chinese president denied. Trump said the Chinese Communist Party leader told him that if someone who sells drugs is executed.
Trump said Republicans must strengthen protections for police officers if they regain a majority in November.
“They have to become our heroes,” he said. “They’re mine. But some people, they don’t feel that way. They’re going to have to feel that way if we’re going to have a great country and a safe country.”
The former president also called for the removal of large parts of cheap land and the creation of high-quality tents with medical professionals.
“What can be done in a day,” he said. “What’s horrible is what’s happening right now.”
Trump’s speech in Washington comes on the same day that his former vice president Mike Pence delivered a speech at the Young America Foundation’s National Conservative Student Conference on Tuesday.
The former president has not been to Washington since leaving office last year, after President Joe Biden took office just two weeks after Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol and sought to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.