Some people may consider this kind of comment a rare occurrence for the Trump administration. While speaking to Laura Ingraham, who hosts The Ingraham Angle on Fox News, on Monday, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Sarah Huckabee Sanders' claim about "terrorists" at the border was an "unfortunate misstatement."
Conway's remarks come after Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace corrected Sanders over her claim that 4,000 terrorists were coming into America through the U.S.-Mexico border. In reality, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported that it apprehended only six migrants suspected to have terrorist links at the southern border in all of 2018. In other words, the White House press secretary was off by 3,994 people.
On Monday, Ingraham brought up Sanders' claim. "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 in the way they described it?" she asked Conway.
"It got unfortunately confused by my colleague," Conway, who is known for her stringent defense of the administration, replied. "But the apprehensions at the border of gang members, of known criminals, these are all again … the media has this presentation if they want to be honest."
On Sunday, Wallace's interview with Sanders got heated when he brought up Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen's claim about more than 3,000 "special interest" migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. Nielsen made the claim on Friday, saying that the Customs and Border Protection had "stopped over 3,000 what we call 'special-interest aliens'" reportedly seeking entry into the country.
Wallace was quick to explain the meaning of a "special interest" individual in this context. "But special interest aliens are just people who have come from countries that have ever produced a terrorist," he told Sanders, "they’re not terrorists themselves."
He then brought Sanders' attention to the State Department's 2017 report that observed that there was "no credible evidence of any terrorist coming across the border from Mexico."
Like Sanders, President Trump has repeatedly made false claims about migrants from Latin America, and inflated the presence of terror suspects at the southern border. In December 2018, Trump claimed, "People are pouring into our country, including terrorists. We have terrorists. We caught 10 terrorists over the last very short period of time. 10. These are very serious people."
Doubling down on his demand for a border wall (which at this point has led to a budget standoff between him and the Democrats, and a subsequent partial government shutdown), Trump added, "Our border agents, all of our law enforcement has been incredible [with] what they’ve done. ... We need the wall."
At the time, Reuters fact-checked Trump's claim: four U.S. counterterrorism officials, who spoke with the media agency on the condition of anonymity, stated that there was no recent evidence of "10 terrorists" being caught at the border, as Trump said.