Trump Reveals What He Really (Maybe) Said About Milwaukee

Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters
Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters

Donald Trump appeared on Fox News Thursday in an attempt to clarify comments he reportedly made about Milwaukee in a closed-door meeting with Republican members of Congress on Capitol Hill earlier that day.

During the controversial appearance—Trump’s first since his supporters took over the Capitol complex on Jan. 6, 2021—the former president is said to have called Milwaukee, who will host this summer’s Republican National Convention, a “horrible city.” The comments were first reported by Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman.

The subsequent fallout saw Wisconsin Republican members of Congress offer differing versions of events, including Rep. Bryan Steil (R-WI), who initially claimed Trump didn’t make the comment at all, but then fell in line with Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI) and Rep. Scott Fitzgerald (R-WI), who clarified to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Trump was discussing the crime rate and election integrity in Milwaukee.

Republicans Call Bull-Schlitz on Trump’s Milwaukee Hate

The Wisconsin GOP eventually echoed Trump spokesperson and former Trump administration official Steven Cheung, who described the report as “total bullshit” in an X post. “He never said it like how it’s been falsely characterized as. He was talking about how terrible crime and voter fraud are,” he said.

However, “Trump absolutely said it—undoubtedly,” Sherman posted in response. “People hear what they want. This is familiar to all who have covered Trump or Trump-adjacent stories for the last 10 or so years.”

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) later told Sean Hannity on Fox News that he “didn’t hear it and I was sitting right next to him.”

Then, appearing on Fox News himself, Trump spoke with reporter Aishah Hasnie, who asked the former president to “nip this in the bud and clarify what you meant.”

Trump retorted that, “It was very clear what I meant. I said, ‘We’re very concerned with crime,’” adding that while he loves Milwaukee and has great friends in the city, “it’s as you know, the crime numbers are terrible. We have to be very careful.”

Trump added he was “referring to also the election, the the ballots, the, the way it went down, it was very bad in Milwaukee. Very, very bad. And the people understand that and they agree with me. Everybody agrees.”

Trump beat Hillary Clinton, taking the state in 2016 by approximately 22,000 votes. It was downhill from there, with Democrats winning the Wisconsin governorship in 2018, and Biden’s 2020 victory which saw the president 21,000 votes ahead.

Fox News Senior Congressional Correspondent Chad Pergram posted Trump’s entire remarks to Hasnie on X.

Trump continued, labelling Thursday’s story as “a fake story that came out” and began targeting “Democrat-run cities”–just like Milwaukee.

“Milwaukee has a problem with crime, as do most Democrat run cities. Most Democrat-run cities, almost all of them have problems. But they also have a problem with votes. And election integrity. And that’s what we want to make sure we get straight.”

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