That roar could have shaken the chandeliers.
A gathering of police chiefs in Chicago to hear a speech by President Donald Trump left no doubt about their feelings on the man in the White House when Trump compared Democratic attempts to impeach him to the case of disgraced television actor Jussie Smollett.
Smollett was the star of the Fox drama “Empire” back in January when he reported what turned out to be an utterly fictitious attack by two alleged Trump supporters on a freezing Chicago street.
“You have the case of this wise guy Jussie Smollett who beat up … himself,” Trump said, with a comic timing that drew a laugh from the audience.
But it was just the set-up for the real point.
“And he said ‘MAGA Country did it.’ MAGA Country. He said, ‘it’s a hate crime.’ It’s a hate crime. And it’s a scam. It is a real big scam just like the impeachment of your president is a scam,” Trump said, drawing the roar that forced him to pause the speech for a moment before continuing.
Check it out here. The Smollett part starts about the 20-second mark.
Trump’s audience was the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and there was no doubt about where the support of that room full of top cops was.
As the rest of that clip makes clear, Trump had no qualms criticizing the event’s host city — the Democratic stronghold of Chicago.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson did not attend the event, telling reporters at a news conference on Saturday, according to the Chicago Tribune, that the president’s speech would not line up with “the way I feel about the core values of this city.”
That was unfortunate because the way Johnson handled himself during the height of the Smollett publicity might have led an observer to think he actually has some appreciation for honesty.
But when push comes to shove in deep, Democratic blue Chicago, apparently, a police superintendent can’t support a Republican president whose election in 2016 was backed by law enforcement groups like the Fraternal Order of Police and the National Border Patrol Council, and who has already been endorsed for 2020 by the International Union of Police Associations.
That might not speak so well of Johnson’s “values.”
And Trump’s speech slammed him for it.
“Here’s a man who could not bother to show up for a meeting of police chiefs, the most respected people in the country, in his hometown and with the president of the United States. And you know why? It’s because he’s not doing his job,” Trump said, according to the Chicago Tribune.
In this clip of Trump’s speech, anyway, the police chiefs mainly kept a decorous silence when Trump criticized Johnson, except toward the end, when the president nailed the city’s unwillingness to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“People like Johnson put criminals and illegal aliens before the citizens of Chicago,” Trump said. “And those are his values. And frankly those values to me are a disgrace.”
That drew a round of almost that bled into Trump’s next line: “I will never put the needs of illegal criminals before I put the needs of law-abiding citizens. It’s very simple to me.”
(It is simple. And it’s astounding that not one Democrat running for president would ever be able to say the same thing.)
But it was the roar that rose when Trump branded impeachment as a “scam” was unmistakable.
It was a roar of support.
It was a roar that could have shaken the chandeliers.
And it was a roar that should have Democrats shaking in their boots.