During Friday’s edition of The Lead With Jake Tapper, CNN political analyst Paul Begala reacted to President Trump’s meeting with the “angel moms” (and dads) who have lost their children as a result of crimes committed by illegal immigrants. Begala accused President Trump of “politicizing” these tragedies and using their pain to “divide America.”
President Trump met with a group of “angel families” at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building Friday; allowing them to share their stories with the American public. The meeting took place shortly before Friday’s edition of The Lead aired, where guest host Dana Bash described President Trump’s assertion that the families of “those killed by people in the country illegally had been ‘permanently separated’ from their loved ones” as an example of his “aiming harsh rhetoric at undocumented immigrants.”
CNN White House Correspondent Boris Sanchez compiled a report on President Trump’s meeting with the “angel families,” where he accused the President of trying to “shift the focus of the immigration debate away from the thousands of immigrant children separated from their parents.” Before introducing the package, Sanchez said the President was “apparently trying to draw a comparison between these families and the thousands of children that have been separated from their parents as a result of this Administration’s policies.”
He was "apparently" showing just how situational the media's sympathies are.
Bash asked CNN political analyst Paul Begala, who used to work for the Clinton Administration, to weigh in on the President’s description of these parents as “permanently separated” from their children. Bash introduced Begala by describing him as a “messaging guru” and saying “I know that this is the other side of the aisle for you and then some.” According to Begala, “He knows what he’s doing. He’s taking this raw, real pain that these poor families are suffering, which is authentic, and he’s politicizing it. Right? It is monstrous to take these folks’ pain and then to try to use it to divide America.”
Bash agreed with Begala’s analysis but admitted that “it was heart-wrenching to watch this event.” She then turned to Mary Katharine Ham, who described the President’s actions as “classic Trump, to take something and politicize it in sort of the most aggressive way possible.” Ham explained that the “angel families” do “feel an empathy gap, and that people don’t give their pain a lot of credit.” The media bears full responsibility for that “empathy gap,” as they do everything they can to portray illegal immigrants as sympathetic figures while virtually ignoring the plight of the “angel families.” President Trump himself pointed this out while meeting with the “angel families,” saying, “You know, you hear the other side. You never hear this side.”
Eventually, Bash decided to change the topic of the conversation to focus on “what is happening at the border right now.” That did not stop the third panelist, The Daily Beast’s Jackie Kucinich, from accusing President Trump of divisive behavior: “And just really quickly, going back to that event, this is what Donald Trump does. He pits people against each other. And right now, it is so cynical, it is so cynical to take these people who have gone through unimaginable pain and pit them against children who have been separated from their parents.”
Throughout the segment, Bash and the others repeatedly accused the Trump Administration of misrepresenting the facts when it comes to the number of crimes committed by illegal immigrants versus the public at large, with Begala trying to argue that “71 percent of all the extremist murders that have occurred in America in the last decade have been committed by white nationalist neo-Nazis.” It turns out the media has done a little bit of misrepresenting on its own. The crying Honduran girl on the cover of the most recent edition of Time magazine standing next to a towering President Trump was not separated from her mother after all, despite the fact that the mainstream media assured us that she was. In addition, the media distributed pictures of illegal immigrant children in cages as they tried to paint the Trump Administration as heartless and cruel.
Considering the hysteria that continues to surround the immigration debate, it looks like no real solution will come about anytime soon, much to the delight of the left and the media, who wants to make this an issue going into the midterms.
The Lead With Jake Tapper
DANA BASH: President Trump this afternoon is aiming more harsh rhetoric at undocumented immigrants, saying families of those killed by people in the country illegally had been “permanently separated” from their loved ones. The President is venting his anger as we learn more about the confusion and chaos he himself has unleashed at the border, where turmoil in the President’s policy is causing a lack of clear guidance about how to address undocumented immigrant families and the struggle to reunite children who have already been separated from their moms and dads. CNN’s Boris Sanchez joins me live at the White House. And, Boris, this afternoon the President was hardly subtle, referring to these families as permanently separated from their loved ones.
BORIS SANCHEZ: Yeah, Dana, the President apparently trying to draw a comparison between these families and the thousands of children that have been separated from their parents as a result of this Administration’s policies. He also repeated that faulty claim that we have heard before, that the United States’ neighbors are putting their worst into a bin and sending them into our country.
SANCHEZ (voice-over): Moments ago, President Trump met with people who have lost loved ones at the hands of undocumented immigrants, as the White House tries to shift the focus of the immigration debate away from thousands of immigrant children separated from their parents.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: These are the American citizens permanently separated from their loved ones; the word permanently being the word that you have to think about, permanently, because they were killed by criminal illegal aliens.
SANCHEZ: Trump used the occasion yet again to blame opponents.
TRUMP: Where is the condemnation of the Democrats’ sanctuary cities that release violent criminals into our communities and then protect them?
SANCHEZ: And building off a familiar refrain dating back to the first day of his campaign, Trump now suggesting immigrants entering the United States are more dangerous than U.S. citizens.
TRUMP: I always hear that, oh, no the population is safer than the people that live in the country. You have heard that, fellas, right? You have heard that. I hear it so much, and I say, is that possible? The answer is it’s not true.
SANCHEZ: Border Patrol Union president Brandon Judd telling CNN the President’s broad description does not match reality.
WOLF BLITZER: He makes it sound like almost all of these people trying to come into the United States are killers or rapists or drug dealers.
BRANDON JUDD: No. If he’s purposely trying to do that, then that’s not true. The vast majority of the individuals that we encounter are very polite, very respectful individuals. It’s about 20 percent that we deal with that have criminal records.
SANCHEZ: After a roller-coaster week of mixed messages from the White House, Republicans in Congress are still uncertain as to what is next.
REP. MIKE COFFMAN (R), COLORADO: What I would like is for the President to have the same message, the message that he…when he talked to us, behind closed doors, vs. a message in terms of talking to the American people.
SANCHEZ: After saying there was no way he would sign an executive order ending family separation…
TRUMP: I can’t do it through an executive order.
SANCHEZ: …on Wednesday, he did just that and told Congress to follow suit.
TRUMP: We’re also wanting to go through Congress. We will be going through Congress. We’re working on a much more comprehensive bill.
SANCHEZ: But this morning, Trump appeared to dismiss the idea altogether, tweeting in part “Republicans should stop wasting their time on Immigration,” leaving some House Republicans who have been working for weeks on a compromise immigration bill deflated.
REP. MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Game over. It takes the wind out of the sails in what might have been a fairly productive week even in terms of looking for a compromise. Without the President being out front, without the President having legislators’ backs, there is no way they are going to take the risk that would be inherent in a major reform bill.
SANCHEZ: Now, Dana, we have to point out, though the President has over and over again accused Democrats of politicizing this issue, if you read the rest of that tweet that we mentioned, it essentially reads as a call to action to his supporters to send a red wave to Congress during the November midterm elections, Dana.
BASH: Boris, thank you for that report. And I want to bring in our panel. The President continued to sort of fly that red wave that he was…the red flag, in hopes for a red wave this November today. I want to talk more about that whole event that he had today and just start with that idea of permanently separated. Kind of clever; certainly not subtle, as I mentioned to Boris. Let’s just listen to it again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT TRUMP: These are the American citizens permanently separated from their loved ones. The word permanently being the word that you have to think about, permanently, they’re not separated for a day or two days, these are permanently separated because they were killed by criminal illegal aliens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Paul, you’re a messaging guru. I know that this is the other side of the aisle for you and then some. But what do you think of what he’s trying to do there?
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: He knows what he’s doing. He’s taking this raw, real pain that these poor families are suffering, which is authentic, and he’s politicizing it. Right? It is monstrous to take these folks’ pain and then to try to use it to divide America. It is true, as we saw from the guy from the Customs and Border Patrol Agents Union, that the immigrant population commits fewer crimes. You know, why doesn’t he have a meeting with families of people who have been killed by right-wing white nationalist extremists? You know, The ADL, the Anti- Defamation League, says 71 percent of all the extremist murders that have occurred in America in the last decade have been committed by white nationalist neo-Nazis. That is a real problem. That pain is real. But that shouldn’t be exploited for politics either. And he doesn’t seem very interested in folks, you know, who have been murdered by the extreme right. I don’t know that he’s ever met with the family of Heather Heyer, who was allegedly…she was murdered, but she was allegedly by right-wing extremists in Charlottesville. So that is the kind of politicization that is really monstrous.
BASH: Yeah. This is clearly a political event. It doesn’t take away from these families’ pain.
BASH: I mean, it was heart-wrenching to watch this event. Having said that, what Paul said is right. According to multiple studies, Mary Katharine, there is actually less violent crime in states that have the most undocumented immigrants.
MARY KATHARINE HAM: Yeah, that is true. And this is classic Trump, to take something and politicize it in sort of the most aggressive way possible. But there’s also a reason those families are with him and standing with him. And that is because they do feel an empathy gap, and that people don’t give their pain a lot of credit because it is uncomfortable to talk about and because I think it is not statistically representative and it’s not great for crafting policy. But their pain is real and it does point out sometimes real gaps in our immigration system, which is a disaster and why we might need a comprehensive, smart legislative solution, but whatever. For instance, some of these people have been deported several times and come back to commit these crimes. So I think that’s, that’s a problem worth pointing out. This is not the way that I would ever do it.
HAM: And I don’t think that it…much like emotionalism on the other side, I don’t think it gets us closer to an answer.
BASH: But for Donald Trump, this is familiar emotionalism.
HAM: Oh, yes.
BASH: I mean, this is how he started the day that he came down that escalator. This is how he started his campaign. Some of those faces look familiar from the campaign, from the campaign trail, and we know that it works. But let’s focus on what is happening on the border right now. Jackie, CNN obtained e-mails saying essentially that the Customs and Border Protection Agency has stopped, has stopped following the Trump Administration’s zero tolerance policy that led to the separation. So is this the new policy, or is it still unclear what the new policy is?
JACKIE KUCINICH: I don’t think anyone knows at this point, which is, and I think the most concerning thing is, is these children, they don’t know how they are going to be reunited with their parents yet. There is no plan. There is no, they haven’t released anything that shows that these…that there is any sort of infrastructure, anything to start putting these families back together. Whether or not they are going to be in detention or in some other capacity, there is no plan. And just really quickly, going back to that event, this is what Donald Trump does. He pits people against each other. And right now, it is so cynical, it is so cynical to take these people who have gone through unimaginable pain and pit them against children who have been separated from their parents.