Donald Trump did something we’re very familiar with. He changed his mind on a divisive wedge issue that he had been pushing Republicans to solve. After being forced to sign an executive order stopping the separation of immigrants entering the United States illegally from their families, he reversed course on Twitter.

Lawmakers had been struggling and fighting each other over two immigration bills, and suddenly they were hamstrung. It came as no surprise to many in Congress as the Trump administration has changed its story on family separation 14 times already before finally giving up on it.

mark meadows fighting with paul ryan about immigration on house floor
Mark Meadows fights with Speaker Paul Ryan on House floor over immigration.

President Donald Trump is misrepresenting the scope of his executive order that would halt his administration’s policy of separating children from their parents when they are detained illegally crossing the U.S. border.

He suggests the order is a permanent solution. But the president is contradicted by his own Justice Department, which describes the effort as stopgap and limited by a 21-year-old court settlement under which the federal government essentially agreed not to detain immigrant minors longer than 20 days. Trump has instructed Attorney General Jeff Sessions to ask a federal court to overturn the settlement. But immigration advocates criticize that move as allowing a more indefinite detention of families until criminal and removal proceedings are completed, signaling legal battles ahead.

A look at Trump’s statement and the underlying facts:

TRUMP: “We’re keeping families together, and this will solve that problem.”

THE FACTS: It doesn’t solve the problem.

Trump’s executive order will continue his “zero tolerance” policy of criminally prosecuting all adults caught crossing the border illegally and will now seek to keep families together instead of separating them while their legal cases are heard by the courts.

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But a 1997 landmark settlement known as the Flores agreement that generally bars the government from keeping children in immigration detention for more than 20 days remains in place. Trump is seeking to have the settlement overturned, but his Justice Department said Wednesday that the 20-day policy essentially remains in effect until Congress or the courts take action to change that.

That means without further action from Congress or the courts, the Trump administration could be forced to again separate the immigrant children from their parents in three weeks.

Trump’s order also requests that the Defense Department make facilities available on military bases to house detained immigrant families or to construct new facilities. Depending on the availability of space, his order does not indicate whether children will continue to remain separated from their parents while additional facilities are being built.

donald trump on north korea nuclear agreement

President Donald Trump is trumpeting results of his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that get ahead of reality.

He is declaring that North Korea has already begun ridding itself fully of nuclear weapons following an agreement with Kim in Singapore earlier this month, even though his Defense Department says otherwise.

Trump also prematurely claimed the return of remains of U.S. servicemen missing from the 1950-53 Korean War.

A look at how his statements compare with the facts:

TRUMP: “The big thing is, it will be a total denuclearization, which has already started taking place.” — remarks Thursday at Cabinet meeting.

THE FACTS: That’s not what his Pentagon chief, Jim Mattis, says. When asked by a reporter on Wednesday whether he had seen any sign that North Korea had begun steps toward denuclearization, Mattis replied, “I’m not aware of any. Obviously, we’re at the very front end of the process. Detailed negotiations have not begun.”

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At the summit, Kim committed to “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” but no details were worked out.

In May, prior to the summit, North Korea demolished tunnels at its sole underground nuclear test site, although outsiders have not inspected the result. Its nuclear program has many other elements, including nuclear materials production facilities, nuclear warheads, ballistic missiles and missile launchers.

TRUMP: “We got back our great fallen heroes, the remains sent back today, already 200 have been sent back.” — remarks Wednesday at a rally in Duluth, Minnesota.

THE FACTS: No remains have been returned, although Pentagon officials say they are prepared to receive them. Although the Singapore declaration said this would happen immediately, U.S. officials have given no indication that North Korea has committed to any specific timetable for the return.

On Thursday, in remarks at a Cabinet meeting, Trump modified his claim, saying, “They’ve already sent back or are in the process of sending back the remains of our great heroes who died in North Korea during the war.”

Aside from uncertainty over when North Korea will return the remains it has collected over the years, it’s unclear whether all will be in a condition to permit their positive identification, or whether they all are even Americans. A number of allied soldiers who fought alongside the U.S. during the war also are missing.

Nearly 7,700 American service members are listed as unaccounted for from the Korean War, of which an estimated 5,300 were lost in North Korea.

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