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President Trump blames ‘bad leadership’ for latest Chicago violence

President Donald Trump listens during a meeting with state leaders about prison reform on Aug. 9, 2018, at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. | AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

WASHINGTON — After a weekend of violence in Chicago, President Donald Trump on Thursday blamed the city’s “bad leadership,” taking indirect aim at Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who he did not mention by name.

Trump spoke during a meeting on prison reform at his Bedminster, New Jersey, resort. Throughout his presidency and 2016 campaign, Trump has slammed Chicago over its ongoing struggle with violence, jabbing Emanuel, who was former President Barack Obama’s first chief of staff.

“We must strengthen community bonds with law enforcement, including cities like Chicago that have been an absolute and total disaster.” Trump said.

“We’ll be talking about Chicago today because that is something that, in terms of our nation, nobody would believe it could be happening. They had 63 incidents last weekend and 12 deaths,” Trump said, citing an incorrect number. There were 71 shot in the city.

“That’s bad stuff happening, and probably, I guess, you have to take from the leadership. That’s called bad leadership. There’s no reason, in a million years, that something like that should be happening in Chicago. We want every child to grow up in a safe neighborhood surrounded by families that are loving and helpful, and with a path to great education and a lifelong career,” Trump said.

Trump highlighted Chicago’s problems with shootings during his presidential campaign, transition and has continued to do so since he took office on Jan. 20, 2017. He said in Twitter posts and speeches he will “send in the feds” to help stop the “carnage” in Chicago.

In June, 2017, then Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said crime in Chicago was “driven more by morality” than access to guns, commenting after the Trump administration sent 20 more U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents to the city to combat gun violence.

Emanuel spokesman Adam Collins said in a statement, “Bob Mueller’s investigation and Paul Manafort’s criminal trial must be getting to the president, but we’re too busy working to continue reducing crime with police, community leaders, ministers and federal prosecutors to pay attention to his musings.”