Donald Trump spends weekend in lies about immigration, North Korea summit, and Trump-Russia investigation
Trump Tries to Shift Blame to Democrats for His Policy
In a weekend of false statements by him and his advisors, Donald Trump tries to escape a growing controversy over his Administration’s separation of undocumented immigrant children from their parents.
Earlier this month, under pressure from Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a goal to criminally prosecute all people crossing the border without documents. Those charged with improper entry, even though it is a misdemeanor on the first infraction, are imprisoned and separated from their children.
However, the Administration is facing a wave of resistance, amid stories of the anguish caused by the separations, images of children in camps, and the “loss” of almost 1,500 unaccompanied immigrant minors — with concern that some may have been taken by human traffickers — by Government authorities.
In recent weeks, Trump has berated his officials, claiming they have not cracked down to protect the US border. He reportedly brought Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen to the point of resignation after humiliating her in a Cabinet meeting. The President has referred to people crossing the border as “animals”, and Chief of Staff John Kelly showed an apparent lack of concern when he said separated children will be “put into foster care or whatever”.
But in a Twitter message on Saturday, Trump claimed it was the Democrats that were responsible for the pursuit of separation of children and parents. The lie was accompanied by a series of demands, including the enforcement of the Administration policy to prosecute all undocumented border-crossers, an end to the Visa Diversity Lottery, and a prohibition on immigrants bringing relatives to the US:
Put pressure on the Democrats to end the horrible law that separates children from there parents once they cross the Border into the U.S. Catch and Release, Lottery and Chain must also go with it and we MUST continue building the WALL! DEMOCRATS ARE PROTECTING MS-13 THUGS.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 26, 2018
Sessions’ confirmation of the demand for 100% prosecutions, backed by Trump’s high-profile — and sometimes contradictory — statements, has elevated attention to the situation of undocumented immigrants. However, even before this month’s order, authorities were splitting families. From October 2017 to mid-April, more than 700 children were reportedly separated from their parents.
With the Administration’s demand for a crackdown, the numbers are likely to be far higher. One public defender in McAllen, Texas said that, compared to one or two cases a week in the town of McAllen, there were 33 last week.
Even as Trump tried to distance himself from the human toll, new revelations and photographs challenged the Administration. Images showed children in cages at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement center:
Senator Kamala Harris presses Homeland Security Director Nielsen at a hearing last week:
I demanded answers from DHS Secretary Nielsen about the Trump Administration's immoral policy of separating children from their parents at the border & ports of entry last week. Her answers were beyond insufficient. pic.twitter.com/2g2vo7EBJd
— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) May 26, 2018
More Lies in Campaign to Discredit Mueller Investigation
In addition to lying about the North Korean summit — denying the existence of a White House staffer who told reporters that it was unlikely the meeting with Kim Jong-un could be held on June 12 (see Sunday’s TrumpWatch) — Trump repeated more falsehoods on Sunday in the ongoing campaign to undermine the Trump-Russia inquiry.
Trump kept pressing the lie that the FBI had a “spy” inside his 2016 campaign, used in recent weeks by the President and his allies to discredit the agency, the Justice Department, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Trump then repeated his untrue claim that the members of Mueller’s team are politically motiviated as “13 Angry Democrats”.
In fact, Mueller is a registered Republican as are several of his investigators.
In the most unusual tweet, Trump tried to whip up a story of innocent staff as Mueller’s victims:
Who’s going to give back the young and beautiful lives (and others) that have been devastated and destroyed by the phony Russia Collusion Witch Hunt? They journeyed down to Washington, D.C., with stars in their eyes and wanting to help our nation…They went back home in tatters!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 27, 2018
Trump did not identify any of the “young and beautiful lives”.
Those indicted and/or convicted so far in the Mueller investigation are former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort (69), Manafort’s top aide Rick Gates (46), former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn (59), lawyer Alex van der Zwaan (33), and Trump foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos (30).
Thirty Russian individuals and three Russian entities have also been indicted.
The White House Lie Over Firing of FBI Director Comey
Another White House lying campaign has been confirmed by the release of more than 100 pages of Government documents over Trump’s May 2017 firing of FBI Director James Comey in an attempt to halt the Russia investigation.
On May 10, the day after Trump’s dismissal of Comey — following by his bragging to visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that he had removed a staffer who was “crazy” and a “nut job” — Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed that “the rank and file of the FBI had lost confidence in their director”.
But not a single remark by FBI personnel, in the 103 pages released under a Freedom of Information Act request, criticizes Comey. Instead, they console each other in support of their fallen director, as in the messages from Special Agent in Charge Renae McDermott of the Knoxville field office:
Unexpected news such as this is hard to understand but I know you all know our Director stood for what is right and what is true!!!…He truly made us better when we needed it the most….I need for all of you to make sure our/your folks are doing OK. Check with them today, tomorrow….You get the idea.
The staff responses depict “a whirlwind of shock at the suddenness of the departure of Director Comey and concern with what the future will hold” and back the summary of Nora Ellingsen, a counterterrorism analyst at the FBI for several years, who spoke with about 20 of her former colleagues:
Nearly everyone loved him…[The] degree of consensus on this point…has been incredible….All of the people I talked to described having the same reaction when they heard that the director had been fired: complete shock, followed by deep sadness.