Donald Trump made the first formal address of his presidency from the Oval Office. Normally these types of speeches are reserved for true national emergencies, not crises that are part of a campaign promise or political agenda. But that is what we witnessed tonight. It was a much more reserved Trump than we usually see, with each word coming off of a Teleprompter. Here are some excerpts, followed by some fact checking by reporters:
“I’m speaking to you because there is a growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border. Every day, customs and border patrol agents encounter thousands of illegal immigrants trying to enter our country. We are out of space to hold them, and we have no way to promptly return them back home to their country.”
Trump keeps saying humanitarian crisis. Security crisis. But it seems largely a political crisis of his own making.
— Greg Miller (@gregpmiller) January 9, 2019
Trump then tried to say a wall would stop the drug trade:
“Our southern border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs including meth, heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl. 300 citizens are killed by heroin alone. 90% of which floods across from our southern border. More Americans will die from drugs this year than were killed in the entire Vietnam war.”
Most of the heroin Trump is talking about comes through legal ports of entry, not through unwalled areas.
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) January 9, 2019
He also blamed immigrants for thousands of murders:
“Thousands of Americans have been brutally killed by those who illegally entered our country and thousands more lives will be lost if we don’t act right now. This is a humanitarian crisis. a crisis of the heart, and a crisis of the soul.”
Trump offers a bunch of gore porn to smear immigrants as murderers. (They are in fact less likely to commit crimes than native-born citizens.) pic.twitter.com/9h0hhcOoef
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 9, 2019
As for the wall itself. Trump said:
“As part of an overall approach to border security, law enforcement professionals have requested $5.7 billion for a physical barrier. At the request of democrats, it will be a steel barrier rather than a concrete wall. This barrier is absolutely critical to border security. It’s also what professionals at the border want and need.”
Trump says wall will be a steel wall rather than concrete “at the request of Democrats.” This is false. Congressional Democrats have not said they were ok with a wall as long as it wasn’t concrete.
— Josh Lederman (@JoshNBCNews) January 9, 2019
One of the big takeaways from the speech though is that there wasn’t really anything new that Trump hasn’t said before.
Must have been a different speech. https://t.co/m1LKxEHXlp
— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) January 9, 2019
Trump got 10 minutes of primetime to tell a bunch of lies, scare people, and offer absolutely nothing new. Very cool.
— Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) January 9, 2019
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader came on minutes after Trump with their own fact-checking and rebuttal. Pelosi said:
The fact is: the women and children at the border are not a security threat, they are a humanitarian challenge – a challenge that President Trump’s own cruel and counterproductive policies have only deepened. And the fact is: President Trump must stop holding the American people hostage, must stop manufacturing a crisis, and must re-open the government.
And Schumer added:
Tonight – and throughout this debate and his presidency – President Trump has appealed to fear, not facts. Division, not unity. Make no mistake: Democrats and the President both want stronger border security. However, we sharply disagree with the President about the most effective way to do it. So, how do we untangle this mess? There is an obvious solution: separate the shutdown from the arguments over border security.
Watch what else they said here.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer deliver a joint Democratic response following President https://t.co/6pEnal7FBB
— TIME (@TIME) January 9, 2019