Former President Donald Trump made his grand return to the nation’s capital on Tuesday, delivering what was billed as a policy speech to his new think tank that was light on policy and heavy on Trumpian grievance.
Speaking to a friendly crowd gathered at his America First Policy Institute’s inaugural conference, what little time Trump spent on policy was largely devoted to an old idea (executing drug dealers) and a new one (relocating homeless populations to tent cities on the outskirts of metropolitan areas).
“Open up large parcels of inexpensive land in the outer reaches of the cities,” Trump said, describing how he would implement the plan to remove people living in tents.
The real-estate maven turned ex-president added that “thousands and thousands of high-quality tents” could be pitched in “one day.”
On the topic of drug dealers in America, Trump recycled an old proposition: speedy execution.
“The penalties should be very, very severe,” he said. “If you look at countries throughout the world, the ones that don’t have a drug problem are ones that institute a very quick trial death penalty sentence for drug dealers,” Trump told attendees at the invite-only event.
“It sounds horrible, doesn’t it? But, you know what? That’s the ones that don’t have any problem,” he said. “It doesn’t take 15 years in court. It goes quickly, and you absolutely, you execute a drug dealer, and you’ll save 500 lives.”
Trump has repeatedly praised the drug punishment policies of countries like the Philippines, where former President Rodrigo Duterte is estimated to have murdered more than 6,000 drug dealers in one year, according to the State Department’s 2016 Human Rights Report.
Trump spent most of his speech seemingly riffing on social issues like transgender athletes and crime—he actually proposed sending in the National Guard to Chicago—while still managing to revisit his greatest hits like the dangers of an “open” border and undocumented immigrants coming into the U.S.
“It’s a mile wide and an inch deep, all sizzle and no substance,” one current Trump adviser told The Daily Beast. “They’re burning through donor money and not doing anything meaningful to advance a coherent policy agenda, and everyone who’s paying attention knows it.”