Former President Trump made a surprise visit to the New York Police Department's (NYPD) 17th precinct and Fire Department (FDNY) Ladder 2 company stationhouse Saturday to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks.
Trump skipped joining President Biden and other former presidents at official 9/11 memorial ceremonies at the World Trade Center. Instead, he paid visits to a midtown police precinct and the neighboring fire station next door, where the former president thanked officers and firefighters firsthand for their bravery that day.
During his visit to the 17th Precinct in midtown Manhattan, his first stop, Trump spoke about the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, calling the anniversary "a very sad day for a lot of reasons."
"What an incredible job you do. I grew up with you, and you are New York's finest. You're incredible people. I know many of you," Trump told a group of police officers assembled inside the precinct roll call room Saturday afternoon.
The former president praised the Police Benevolent Association (PBA), the NYPD's largest police union, which broke a long-standing tradition of not issuing presidential endorsements and endorsed Trump in the months ahead of the 2020 election last year.
"The New York City Police endorsed Trump. The first time they’ve ever endorsed a candidate for president," Trump said. "And it’s a great honor. Having that endorsement meant more to me than anything, so I really appreciate it."
Trump also slammed Biden's withdrawal from Afghanistan, calling the exit a "gross incompetence."
"I watched the speeches, and not one person spoke about the fact that three days ago we fled Afghanistan, and we left Americans behind and others too. And we left $85 billion worth of the best equipment ever made," Trump said. "And whoever thought of this, a five-year-old would have said the military goes out last."
So, it was gross incompetence, and I hate to talk about it on this day, but people are saying why aren't they talking about what the hell we did," he added.
The former president praised the New York’s Finest, telling the officers, "if they let you do your job, you wouldn’t have crime in New York!"
"You could straighten out this city if you had the proper leadership," Trump told the officers. "You could straighten out this city in one week, and the incredible thing about you is, you know who the bad guys are. Because you see them, and you get taunted by them. I know what happens, they taunt you, and you're not allowed to do anything. You have to sit back and take it... The advantage you have is you know who the bad ones are, and you could stop it so fast if they let you, but they don't want to do this. And so you have these crime statistics that are crazy."
After he spoke, Trump took questions from NYPD officers, where one asked if he is definitely running for president a second time.
"That's a tough question," Trump responded, telling the officer he knows what he is "going to do" for 2024 before adding, "I think you’re going to be happy."
"Actually, for me, it's an easy question. I mean, I know what I'm going to do, but I'm not supposed to be talking about it yet from the standpoint of campaign finance laws, which, frankly, are ridiculous," Trump added.
Another officer asked if Trump would consider running for mayor of New York City.
"I would love that! I’d say, 'Fellas, good luck, go to town,” before apparently referencing an uptick in violence in the five boroughs. “It’s hurting our city very badly."
After speaking to the officers and signing the precinct logbook, Trump wrote, "I love you all!" From there, Trump went next door to Ladder Co. 2 stationhouse, where he also spoke to the firefighters lined up outside the stationhouse in formation to greet and take pictures with the former President.
Trump exited to cheers and applause after visiting the police precinct and the firehouse, with one firefighter screaming, "Thank you for keeping us safe."
Before the visit, which wasn't made public, Trump released a two-minute video marking the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, where he lambasted Biden’s handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan following the chaotic U.S. exit after two decades of conflict in the country.
"The leader of our country was made to look like a fool, and that can never be allowed to happen. It was caused by bad planning, incredible weakness, and leaders who truly didn’t understand what was happening,” Trump said in the two-minute video shared from his Save America PAC. "This is the 20th year of this war and should have been a year of victory and honor and strength. Instead, Joe Biden and his inept administration surrendered in defeat."
Trump went on to argue that that the U.S."will struggle to recover from the embarrassment this incompetence has caused."
"Do not fear, however. America will be made great again," Trump concluded in the video.