U.S. President Barack Obama speaks while meeting with President-elect Donald Trump following a meeting in the Oval Office Nov. 10, 2016 in Washington, DC. 
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty

To defend his family-separation policy, Trump tries gaslighting


On “Meet the Press” yesterday, Donald Trump insisted to NBC News’ Chuck Todd, “I inherited separation from President Obama.” The president told the same lie to Time magazine a day earlier.

And then the Republican repeated the lie to Jose Diaz-Balart during a Telemundo interview that aired on Friday night:

TRUMP, When I became president, President Obama had a separation policy. I didn’t have it. He had it. I brought the families together. I’m the one that brought ‘em together. Now, I said something when I did that. I’m the one that put people together…. They separated. I put ‘em together.

DIAZ-BALART: You did not.

In case there are any doubts, Jose Diaz-Balart was right and the president was wrong. As the Associated Press put it in a fact-check piece, Trump was simply “not telling the truth.”

To be sure, the president has told this lie before. But the fact remains that the Republican has had a year to come up with a compelling defense for his family-separation policy, and it appears the best he can do is peddle a brazen lie.

The idea that this is simply a continuation of an Obama-era practice is “preposterous,” Denise Gilman, director of the Immigration Clinic at the University of Texas Law School, told NBC News. “There were occasionally instances where you would find a separated family — maybe like one every six months to a year — and that was usually because there had been some actual individualized concern that there was a trafficking situation or that the parent wasn’t actually the parent.”

Once custody concerns were resolved, “there was pretty immediately reunification,” Gilman added. “There were not 2,000 kids in two months — it’s not the same universe,” she said.

Is Trump “the one that ended” the family-separation policy? Grammar aside, this is backwards: Trump is the one who created the family-separation policy. As we’ve discussed, he eventually issued an order to end his own practice, but for Trump to brag about this is like listening to an arsonist boast about putting out a fire he started.

What’s more, as we discussed last week, the policy the president wants credit for ending doesn’t appear to have actually ended, at least not entirely.

It’s understandable that Trump is struggling to defend the indefensible, but his attempts at gaslighting almost literally add insult to injury.