President Donald Trump confirmed on Thursday he was referring to MS-13 gang members as “animals” and not illegal aliens in general in comments he made during a roundtable about California’s sanctuary state law, and added, he “always will.”
The president’s original “animals” comment came during a Wednesday White House meeting concerning California’s recently enacted Senate Bill 54, which greatly limits the ability of state and local law enforcement officials to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
“There could be an MS-13 gang member I know about, if they don’t reach a certain threshold, I cannot tell ICE about them,” Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims told Trump.
He responded, “You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals, and we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before.”
Multiple mainstream media outlets including ABC News, The New York Times, NBC News, The Associated Press, CBS News, CNN and even C-Span took the president’s “animals” comment out of context to make it appear as if he was talking about illegal immigrants in general.
On Thursday, Trump was asked to clarify his use of the word “animals.”
“I’m referring to the MS-13 gangs that are coming in. I was talking about the MS-13,” the president replied. “I’m actually surprised you’re asking this question.”
“These are animals. They’re coming into our country and we’re getting them out,” he said. “I referred to them as animals. And guess what: I always will.”
"I am referring to the MS-13 gangs that are coming in. I was talking about the MS-13 and if you look further under the tape you will see that." President Trump clarifies "These aren't people, these are animals" comment. https://t.co/souzfNvTGc pic.twitter.com/DwupoA1YmM
— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 17, 2018
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters on Thursday, “Frankly, I don’t think the term that the president used was strong enough.”
“This is one of the most vicious and deadly gangs that operates by the motto of ‘rape, control and kill,'” she said. “If the media and liberals want to defend MS-13, they’re more than welcome to.”
Press Sec. Sanders says Pres. Trump's "animals" comment yesterday referred to MS-13 gang members.
— ABC News (@ABC) May 17, 2018
Sanders then described “heinous acts” she said have been perpetrated by MS-13 gang members.
“It took an animal to stab a man 100 times and decapitate him and rip his heart out,” she said. “It took an animal to beat a woman they were sex trafficking with a bat 28 times, indenting part of her body. And it took an animal to kidnap, drug and rape a 14-year-old Houston girl.”
Former White House press secretary under George W. Bush accused the mainstream media of “killing good journalism” by taking Trump’s comment out of context.
The many journalists and editors who wrote/published these stories are killing good journalism. To those who wrote this nonsense: I get you don’t like Trump, but you’re only hurting yourselves. https://t.co/YOb6acZpRW
— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) May 17, 2018
“The many journalists and editors who wrote/published these stories are killing good journalism,” Fleischer wrote. “To those who wrote this nonsense: I get you don’t like Trump, but you’re only hurting yourselves.”
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