President Trump said he was “looking very seriously” at American cities that he asserted were overrun with mentally ill and “sick” homeless people who ruin life for others who live and work there.
The president suggested that it was a situation that began just two years ago — even though cities have struggled with homelessness for decades. He also said he “may intercede and do something to get that whole thing cleaned up,” though he did not elaborate on what actions he or the government might take.
Mr. Trump made the comments in an interview that was conducted over the weekend for “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Fox News and broadcast on Monday. The discussion began when Mr. Carlson observed that New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles have “a major problem with filth.”
The president agreed and called it “very sad” and claimed that police officers in American cities were “getting sick” from dealing with people who were living in terrible conditions on the street.
“The people living there are living in hell,” he said. “Some of them have mental problems where they don’t even know they are living that way. In fact, perhaps they like living that way. They can’t do that. We can’t ruin our cities.
“You have people that work in those cities, they work in office buildings,” he continued. “To get into the building they have to walk through a scene that nobody would have believed possible.”
While Mr. Trump did not use the word homelessness during the interview, it was clear from the discussion that he was talking about people living on the streets of American cities.
He said that “we’ve never had this in our lives before in our country,” and he blamed “the liberal establishment” for the conditions in the cities.
“This is what I am fighting,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Carlson. “I don’t know if they are afraid of votes. I don’t know if they really believe that this should be taking place. But it is a terrible thing that is taking place.”
A few moments later, he added that “they are usually sanctuary cities, they are run by very liberal people, and the states are run by very liberal people.”
“Do these governors or mayors, do they really think this is a positive?” he asked. “Do they really think it’s O.K.? It’s not. It’s destroying their city.”
Without providing any evidence or explanation, the president claimed that he had ended homelessness in Washington, appearing to suggest that he took actions to clean up the nation’s capital so foreign leaders who visited would not see people on the streets.
While homelessness has fallen in Washington since 2016, more than 6,500 residents were counted as homeless during a point-in-time tally taken one night in January.
“We had certain areas of Washington, D.C., where that was starting to happen,” Mr. Trump said. “I ended it very quickly. I said you can’t do that. When you have leaders of the world coming in to see the president of the United States and they’re riding down a highway, they can’t be looking at that.”