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Fact Check: Trump Claims U.S. Crime Is 'Only' Going Up, Despite Steep Drop in Violence During Biden Presidency

Trump has tried blaming his successor for letting crime run rampant. In reality, murder rates rose a record level during Trump's final year in office, and — along with overall crime rates — fell sharply in 2023

<p>Adam Glanzman/Bloomberg via Getty</p> Donald Trump at a New Hampshire campaign event on Jan. 17, 2024

Adam Glanzman/Bloomberg via Getty

Donald Trump at a New Hampshire campaign event on Jan. 17, 2024

Former President Donald Trump is continuing to fabricate statistics on the campaign trail, falsely telling Michigan voters on April 2 that crime in the United States is "only going in one direction" (i.e., upward) while attempting to stoke fear about violent crimes perpetrated by immigrants lacking permanent legal status.

In a Grand Rapids speech that relied heavily on anti-immigrant rhetoric — including calling people who entered the U.S. illegally "animals" — Trump raised the topic of crime in America. “Wouldn’t we love to have a statistic where crime is down 67%? Ours is only going in one direction,” he said, while pointing toward the ceiling.

As CNN highlighted, Trump's claim ignored recent crime data. In March the FBI reported preliminary statistics from 2023, which show a 6% drop in violent crime compared to 2022, and a 13% drop in murder. Reported crimes decreased in nearly every category, with only motor vehicle theft seeing an uptick.

Related: Every Crime Donald Trump Has Been Charged With

Data expert Jeff Asher, who reported on the FBI's preliminary findings, noted that although the final 2023 crime statistics will not be posted until October, a 13% decrease in murder would be "by far" the sharpest decline recorded in the six decades of statistics available. Previously, the sharpest murder decline was 9% in 1996.

<p>Win McNamee/Getty Images</p> President Joe Biden delivers remarks during an event on the South Lawn of the White House

Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Joe Biden delivers remarks during an event on the South Lawn of the White House

Political science professor Anna Harvey, who leads New York University's Public Safety Lab, told CNN that not only is Trump's claim patently false, but it overlooks the troubling crime statistics from his own time in office.

"During 2020, the last year of the Trump presidency, violent crime rose dramatically," she told the outlet. "The murder rate, for example, increased by almost 30%, the largest one-year increase on record. But violent crime has been falling during the Biden presidency."

Related: Historians Rank Donald Trump Worst U.S. President Again, with Biden in 14th Place

Asher — who previously wrote for The New York Times that the 2020 murder increase was unprecedented — highlighted that the apparent progress in 2023 will help the murder rate return to roughly what it was when Trump took office.

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Crime data is not a perfect science, as some incidents go unreported and each city experiences different trends — but by all metrics available, Trump's claim that crime is "only" going up under the Biden administration is unsupported.

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