Germany found itself the crosshairs of President Donald Trump’s Twitter feed for the second time in two days on Tuesday.
On Monday, the President tweeted that crime in Germany was “way up” and that “people in Germany are turning against their leadership.”
On Tuesday, he doubled down by insisting that crime had climbed more than 10% since Germany allowed in more than a million asylum seekers starting in 2015.
In fact, total crime in Germany is at its lowest point in 30 years, according to the country’s Federal Police, dropping in 2017 by nearly 10%.
As for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a weekend poll by ARD Media showed that she remains the most popular politician in Germany with a 50% approval rating. Merkel herself barely registered Trump’s criticism. “The crime statistics speak for themselves,” she said in a joint news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron.
“These were encouraging numbers and we will continue to work on reducing crime,” Merkel said.
During a speech Tuesday in Washington, Trump suggested that Germany was nor being honest about its crime rate. “They don’t like reporting that kind of crime so they put it down as different kind of crime,” he said.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Tuesday that she was unaware of the source of the statistics cited by the President.
Trump’s tweets were met with withering disdain by German politicians across the political spectrum.
“Always the same nonsense from this weird man in the White House,” tweeted Ralf Stegner of the center-left Social Democrats. “It would be news if Trump actually told the truth!”
Johan Wadephaul, from Merkel’s Christian Democrats, tweeted a tongue-in-cheek response: “And the world is flat and #KimJongUn is a great leader!”
Former German Ambassador to the US Wolfgang Ischinger was more diplomatic, tweeting: “Mr. President, please try to think before you tweet. Or just simply stop tweeting. You would serve your country much better.”
So, why is Trump attacking Germany on immigration? And where is he getting his information?
Trump may be attempting to make the argument that “zero tolerance” border control is necessary to prevent spikes in violent crime such as he claims is happening in Germany.
Study showed spike in crime
He may be referencing a 2016 German government-funded study that showed a 10% increase in violent crime in the German region of Lower Saxony (PDF) one year after tens of thousands of asylum seekers had settled in the area. According to the study, 92% of that rise was attributed to foreign nationals.
Those statistics mirrored what Federal Police recorded at a national level in 2016: A 6.7% rise in violent crime. Overall, migrants accounted for 8.3% of total crimes nationwide, a 52% increase from the previous year.
Far from hiding the numbers, Germany’s Interior Minister Thomas De Maiziere held a news conference on the statistics. De Maiziere that while crimes attributed to migrants were “unacceptably disproportionate,” much of that violent crime was happening within traumatized refugee communities.
“There is nothing to sugarcoat,” said De Maiziere. “There is an overall rise in disrespect, violence and hate.”
By 2017 those numbers had dropped to pre-crisis levels even though nearly a million asylum seekers had settled in Germany and continue to live in the country.
CNN’s Nadine Schmidt contributed to this report.