Trump blew a gasket and trashed crime statistics from his own administration as 'fake news.'
Trump came completely unglued on Friday when multiple reporters pointed out that his racist rhetoric about immigrants does not match up with federal government data, including from Trump's own Department of Homeland Security.
"I use many stats," Trump cried petulantly at one point when he was unable to come up with a specific rebuttal to the facts reporters cited.
The exchange came during a press conference in which Trump declared a national emergency to help him steal funds to build a wall along the southern border.
CNN's Jim Acosta asked Trump to explain the discrepancy between his claims that there is a "national emergency" at the border, and data from the Department of Homeland Security showing "border crossings at a near record low."
Acosta also pointed out that undocumented immigrants are "committing crime at lower levels than native-born Americans."
After noting these facts, Acosta asked Trump if he was "concocting a national emergency here in order to get your wall because you couldn’t get it through other ways?"
Trump lost it. Rather than answer the question, Trump lashed out at Acosta's employer, CNN.
"You're CNN, you’re fake news," Trump said. "You have an agenda. The numbers that you gave are wrong."
But while Trump later claimed that he gets his statistics from the Department of Homeland Security, Acosta was correct about what DHS numbers say about border crossings — which means Trump was smearing his own administration's crime statistics as "fake news."
Brian Karem, White House correspondent for Playboy, followed up by asking Trump to "clarify where you get your numbers" on this subject.
"Most of the DEA [Drug Enforcement Agency] crime reporting statistics we see show that drugs are coming across at the points of entry, that illegal immigration is down, and the violence is down," Karem pointed out. "So what do you base your facts on?”
After a tense back-and-forth in which Trump yelled at Karem to "sit down," he finally replied, "I get my numbers from a lot of sources, like Homeland Security, primarily."
"So your own government stats are wrong, are you saying?" Karem asked.
"I use many stats," Trump repeated vaguely, "but I also use Homeland Security."
Since Trump claims to use Homeland Security information, here is what U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, which is part of DHS, said in December 2017: "In FY17, CBP recorded the lowest level of illegal cross-border migration on record, as measured by apprehensions along the border and inadmissible encounters at U.S. ports of entry."
Forbes noted that Trump officials often cherry-pick data from 2017 and 2018 to claim that illegal border crossings are skyrocketing, but that this just doesn't represent reality.
This trend of decreasing border crossings also tracks with broader immigration patterns since 1980, Forbes points out: "Border Patrol apprehensions along the Southwest border plummeted by approximately 80%, from a high of over 1.6 million in FY 2000, to around 300,000 in FY 2017. (Apprehensions are considered a proxy for illegal entry, so the fewer apprehensions, the less illegal entry.)"
As for Trump's desire to link all immigrants to an increase of criminal activity, Acosta was correct: Immigrants — whether documented or undocumented — commit crimes at a lower rate than those born in the United States.
The Wall Street Journal puts an even finer point on it: While the number of undocumented immigrants tripled between 1990 and 2013, violent crimes in the U.S. declined by 48 percent in the same period.
As for drugs coming into the country, CPB also does, in fact say most drugs are smuggled through points of entry — something a wall would do nothing to stop.
Trump is so desperate to build a wall that he even refuses to accept official data from his own government.
And when informed reporters call him out for his willful ignorance, Trump just can't handle it.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.