President Donald Trump spent the past weekend rallying up his crowds while spreading misleading rhetoric about illegal immigration, health care, the 2020 census, and his favorite; Robert Mueller‘s Russia report..
At a Wisconsin rally, he suggested he’s launched his plan to transport immigrants in the U.S. illegally to sanctuary cities in mass numbers — “my sick idea,” as he proudly called it. There’s no evidence that’s happening.
He’s also giving a confused outlook on the U.S. population growth, alternating between assertions that the country is too full to accept any more migrants and that it needs more migrants to fill jobs.
In the meantime, Russia kept reverberating over the past week, even with special counsel Robert Mueller’s report now part of history.
As much as Trump says he wants the United States to move on, he’s found it hard to turn away himself, as seen in a torrent of tweets and remarks railing against Democrats, trashing Mueller and painting his own actions in a saintly light.
A review of rhetoric from Trump and his team, also touching on health care, the economy and the census:
TRUMP: “Last month alone, 100,000 illegal immigrants arrived in our borders, placing a massive strain on communities and schools and hospitals and public resources, like nobody’s ever seen before. Now we’re sending many of them to sanctuary cities. Thank you very much. … I’m proud to tell you that was my sick idea.” — Green Bay, Wisconsin, rally Saturday.
THE FACTS: A mass transfer to sanctuary cities is not underway. He proposed the idea in part to punish Democratic congressional foes for inaction on the border, but his Homeland Security officials rejected the plan as unworkable.
Trump said this month he was “strongly considering” the proposal, hours after White House and Homeland Security officials had insisted the idea had been eschewed twice.
“We’re in the process of figuring out all the details on how that would work,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Monday.
Sanctuary cities are places where local authorities do not cooperate with immigration officials, denying information or resources that would help them round up for deportation people living in the country illegally.
By all signs, federal officials considered the president’s words little more than bluster. His comments to the Wisconsin crowd appeared to be bluster, too.
People with knowledge of the discussions say White House staff discussed the idea with the Department of Homeland Security in November and February, but it was judged too costly and a misuse of money. The people were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Come On In, With Exceptions
TRUMP on U.S. population: “We need people to come in.” — rally.
TRUMP: “We have companies pouring in. The problem is we need workers.” — Fox Business interview Sunday.
THE FACTS: His position is a flip from earlier this month, when he declared the U.S. to be “full” in light of the overwhelmed southern border.
In an April 7 tweet, he threatened to shut down the border unless Mexico apprehended all immigrants who crossed illegally. But it turns out the U.S. is only “full” in terms of the people Trump doesn’t want.
Immigrants as a whole make up a greater percentage of the total U.S. population than they did back in 1970, having grown from less than 5 percent of the population to more than 13 percent now. In 2030, it’s projected that immigrants will become the primary driver for U.S. population growth, overtaking U.S. births.
HEALTH CARE REVISITED
TRUMP: “The Republicans are always going to protect pre-existing conditions.” — Wisconsin rally.
THE FACTS: He’s not protecting health coverage for patients with pre-existing medical conditions. The Trump administration instead is pressing in court for full repeal of the Affordable Care Act — including provisions that protect people with pre-existing conditions from health insurance discrimination.
Trump and other Republicans say they’ll have a plan to preserve those safeguards, but the White House has provided no details.
Former President Barack Obama’s health care law requires insurers to take all applicants, regardless of medical history, and patients with health problems pay the same standard premiums as healthy ones. Bills supported in 2017 by Trump and congressional Republicans to repeal the law could undermine protections by pushing up costs for people with pre-existing conditions.
RUSSIA, RUSSIA, RUSSIA
TRUMP, calling Mueller’s probe a “witchhunt”: It’s “the greatest political hoax in American history.” — Wisconsin rally.
THE FACTS: A two-year investigation that produced guilty pleas, convictions and criminal charges against Russian intelligence officers and others with ties to the Kremlin, as well as Trump associates, is demonstrably not a hoax.
All told, Mueller charged 34 people, including the president’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and three Russian companies. Twenty-five Russians were indicted on charges related to election interference, accused either of hacking Democratic email accounts during the campaign or of orchestrating a social media campaign that spread disinformation on the internet.
Five Trump aides pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with Mueller, and a sixth, longtime confidant Roger Stone, is awaiting trial on charges he lied to Congress and engaged in witness tampering.
Mueller’s report concluded that Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election was “sweeping and systematic.” Ultimately, Mueller did not find a criminal conspiracy between Russia and the Trump campaign. But the special counsel didn’t render judgment on whether Trump obstructed justice, saying his investigators found evidence on both sides.
TRUMP: “The American people deserve to know who is in this Country. Yesterday, the Supreme Court took up the Census Citizenship question, a really big deal.” — tweet Wednesday.
GIDLEY, when asked whether Trump believes an accurate census count isn’t necessary: “He wants to know who’s in this country. I think as a sovereign nation we have that right. It’s been a question that’s been on the census for decades.” — remarks Tuesday.
THE FACTS: Not since 1950 has the census collected citizenship data from the whole population.
Moreover, Trump’s position that asking a citizenship question in the census is needed to “know who is in this country” ignores the judgment of the Census Bureau’s own researchers, who say that it would not result in the most accurate possible count of the U.S. population. The question is already asked in other government surveys.
According to January 2018 calculations by the Census Bureau, adding the question to the once-a-decade survey form would cause lower response rates among Hispanics and noncitizens. The government would have to spend at least $27.5 million for additional phone calls, home visits and other follow-up efforts to reach them.
Federal judges in California, Maryland and New York have blocked the administration from going forward with a citizenship question after crediting the analysis of agency experts. The experts said millions would go uncounted because Hispanics and immigrants might be reluctant to say if they or others in their households are not citizens.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has argued that a citizenship question is needed to help the government better comply with the Voting Rights Act. But the Justice Department has been enforcing the 1965 law, which was passed to help protect minority groups’ political rights, with citizenship data already available from other government surveys.
The count goes to the heart of the U.S. political system, determining the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House and how the electoral votes that decide presidential elections are distributed. It also shapes how 300 federal programs distribute more than $800 billion a year to local communities.