If the leaked draft of Donald Trump’s RNC speech is accurate, the Republican nominee is going to imply Thursday night that the threat of being violently attacked is the most pressing problem facing U.S. citizens:
Decades of progress made in bringing down crime are now being reversed by this Administration’s rollback of criminal enforcement … The first task for our new Administration will be to liberate our citizens from the crime and terrorism and lawlessness that threatens their communities.
While violence does, obviously, take place in the United States, making crime the centerpiece of a 2016 presidential campaign is a somewhat surprising choice given that America has on the whole been getting steadily safer for more than two decades. Here are stats from the FBI, whose numbers are generally considered the starting point for any discussion of the issue:
The Trump campaign has an answer for this problem, it appears: arguing that the FBI is no longer trustworthy because it did not recommend prosecuting Hillary Clinton. You can see campaign manager Paul Manafort making that case to Jake Tapper on CNN in the video above; here’s a partial transcript.
TAPPER: Now crime, obviously, violent crime, horrific, but just empirically, according to FBI statistics, crime rates have been going down for decades. How can Republicans make the argument that somehow it’s more dangerous today when the facts don’t back that up?
MANAFORT: People don’t feel safe in their neighborhoods. I’m not sure what statistics that you’re talking about but I know for a fact the information we see—
TAPPER [or another off-screen voice]: FBI statistics.
MANFORT: Well, the FBI is certainly suspect after what they just did with Hillary Clinton, but as far as crime in the neighborhood is concerned, people don’t feel safe.
And there you go—the FBI’s findings, which go back decades and have been compiled under both Republican and Democratic presidents, are suspect because Hillary Clinton was not prosecuted for keeping her State Department email on a private server.