We’ve all grown accustomed to Donald Trump’s many demonstrably false claims, but some more galling than others.
Take this exchange, for example, during a brief Q&A between the president and reporters at Mar-a-Lago on Friday afternoon.
Q: Sir, on that note, two children died around December in U.S. custody – migrant children. Do you believe, given the rising numbers of migrant families and children at the border, your administration is equipped to handle that in a way that it tries to ensure that children are not dying and being harmed?
TRUMP: Well, I think that it’s been very well stated that we’ve done a fantastic job. One of the children – the father gave the child no water for a long period of time. He actually admitted blame.
I’m not in a position to say with certainty whether the president was being ignorant or dishonest, but as the Associated Press reported, Trump “misrepresented the circumstances” surrounding what happened to Jakelin Caal Maquin, a 7-year-old migrant girl who died in December.
An autopsy report released Friday found that Guatemalan girl died of a bacterial infection just more than a day after being apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol. The El Paso County Medical Examiner’s office said traces of streptococcus bacteria were found in Jakelin’s lungs, adrenal gland, liver, and spleen, and she experienced a “rapidly progressive infection” that led to the failure of multiple organs.
Neither the autopsy report, nor accounts at the time by Customs and Border Protection, spoke of dehydration. And through family lawyers, Nery Gilberto Caal Cuz said after his girl’s death that he made sure she had food and water as they traveled through Mexico.
Moreover, the Border Protection timeline on her case said she was checked for medical problems upon her apprehension and: “The initial screening revealed no evidence of health issues.”
The AP’s report went into quite a bit more detail, but the bottom line remains the same: nearly four months after the young girl’s death, Trump’s version of events is plainly at odds with what actually happened – and his efforts to blame the child’s father seem impossible to defend.
The president’s comments, incidentally, came the day after he told a Michigan audience that he’s indifferent to the plight of migrants, whom he suspects of perpetrating a fraud.
“You have people coming up here, you know, they are all met by the lawyers,” Trump said. “The lawyers and they come out, they are all met by the loiterers and they say the following phrase: ‘I am very afraid for my life. I am afraid for my life.’ Okay. And then I look at the guy, he looks like he just got out of the ring, he’s a heavyweight champion of the world…. It’s a big fat con job, folks. It’s a big fat con job.”
The story about the heavyweight boxer, like Trump’s version of events surrounding Jakelin Caal Maquin’s death, is fiction.