Kellyanne Conway on Tuesday shrugged off White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ false claim that thousands of terrorists are crossing into the U.S. from Mexico as merely “an unfortunate misstatement.”
The top White House adviser, during an interview with Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle,” downplayed the controversy surrounding Sanders’ repeated ― and incorrect ― assertions that terrorists are flooding the southern border.
Sanders on Friday told “Fox & Friends” that “nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists” had crossed into the U.S. from Mexico last year. She cited the statistic again two days later on “Fox News Sunday,” but host Chris Wallace pushed back on her claim, noting that most of the people she referenced had been apprehended at airports ― not the southern border.
In reality, border officials caught a total of six people on a security watchlist at the Mexico border over a six-month period last year, NBC reported Monday.
“It’s a much smaller threat than you describe,” host Laura Ingraham told Conway. “Doesn’t that hurt the credibility of the White House when we don’t get these basic facts right and someone’s not doing their homework?”
Conway responded that Sanders had accidentally “conflated” numbers from several different border security reports.
The explanation seemed to pass the smell test for Ingraham, who then suggested Sanders was being treated unfairly by the press.
“They’re cherry-picking. This is what they do,” Ingraham said of media outlets calling out Sanders’ falsehoods. “We all kind of make mistakes. We’re talking, you know, all day long.”
Watch the exchange around the 3-minute mark below:
Conway agreed, “Yeah, that was an unfortunate misstatement. And everybody makes mistakes ― all of us. The fact is it’s corrected here.”
But Sanders isn’t the only Trump administration official to make misleading statements about border security while defending President Donald Trump’s demand for $5 billion to build his long-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen last week said U.S. Customs and Border Protection had “stopped over 3,000 what we call ‘special-interest aliens’ trying to come into the country on the southern border. Those are aliens who the intel community has identified are of concern.”
Wallace on Sunday pointed out that “special-interest aliens” are simply people who come from a country that has ever produced a terrorist. And Vice President Mike Pence made an outrageous claim to The Washington Post in October that 10 terrorists or suspected terrorists had been captured at the southern border every day in the last fiscal year.