While President Donald Trump remained silent during part of the holiday weekend, he’s come out swinging hard at Robert Mueller and reports on his federal policy that split migrant families at the border. Trump is now claiming that Barack Obama did the exact same thing.
That would seem odd as Trump has been vehemently opposed to following in Obama’s footsteps and has spent two years trying to dismantle everything the former president created.
The Obama and Trump administrations operated under the same immigration laws but the “zero tolerance” policy that drove children from their parents was Trump’s.
The Facts Behind Trump’s Claim
TRUMP: “Obama had a separation policy; we all had the same policy. I tried to do it differently, but Obama had a separation policy. But people don’t like to talk about that.” — remarks to reporters Monday.
TRUMP: ”@60Minutes did a phony story about child separation when they know we had the exact same policy as the Obama Administration. In fact, a picture of children in jails was used by other Fake Media to show how bad (cruel) we are, but it was in 2014 during O years. Obama separated … children from parents, as did Bush etc., because that is the policy and law. I tried to keep them together, but the problem is, when you do that, vast numbers of additional people storm the Border. So with Obama seperation is fine, but with Trump, it’s not. Fake 60 Minutes!” — tweets Sunday.
THE FACTS: Obama did not have a separation policy. The Trump administration didn’t, explicitly, either, but that was the effect of zero tolerance, which meant that anyone caught crossing the border illegally was to be criminally prosecuted, even if they had few or no previous offenses.
The policy meant adults were taken to court for criminal proceedings and their children were separated. In most cases, if the charge took longer than 72 hours to process, which is the longest time that children can be held by Customs and Border Protection, children were sent into the care of the Health and Human Services Department. Zero tolerance remains in effect, but Trump signed an executive order June 20 that stopped separations.
The president is correct, however, in saying that photos of children in holding cells were misrepresented online as showing the effects of Trump’s immigration policy.
The photos were from 2014, during the Obama administration, and showed children who came to the border without their parents and were being housed at a Customs and Border Protection center in Nogales, Arizona. The photos were identified as such but wrongly described online as illustrating imprisonment under Trump. Various activists expressed horror about the scene until it was pointed out that Trump had nothing to do with it.
A day after President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was accused of violating a plea agreement in the Russia investigation; Trump is accusing special counsel Robert Mueller (MUHL’-ur) of “ruining lives.”
….The Fake News Media builds Bob Mueller up as a Saint, when in actuality he is the exact opposite. He is doing TREMENDOUS damage to our Criminal Justice System, where he is only looking at one side and not the other. Heroes will come of this, and it won’t be Mueller and his…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 27, 2018
Trump tweeted on Tuesday that he thinks the media “builds Bob Mueller up as a Saint.”
The Phony Witch Hunt continues, but Mueller and his gang of Angry Dems are only looking at one side, not the other. Wait until it comes out how horribly & viciously they are treating people, ruining lives for them refusing to lie. Mueller is a conflicted prosecutor gone rogue….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 27, 2018
Trump says that when the Mueller investigation ends it will become evident that people were treated “horribly” and “viciously” and that people’s lives are being ruined for refusing to lie. Trump apparently was referring to conservative author Jerome Corsi, who says he rejected a plea because it would have forced him to falsely admit that he lied to investigators.
The special counsel in the Russia investigation is accusing former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort of violating his plea agreement by repeatedly lying to federal investigators, an extraordinary allegation that could expose him to a lengthier prison sentence — and potentially more criminal charges.
The torpedoing of Manafort’s plea deal, disclosed in a court filing Monday, also results in special counsel Robert Mueller’s team losing a cooperating witness from the top of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign who was present for several key episodes under investigation. That includes a Trump Tower meeting involving Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer he was told had derogatory information on Democrat Hillary Clinton.
The move signals a return to the acrimonious relationship Manafort has had with the special counsel’s office since his indictment last year. Before his plea agreement, Manafort aggressively challenged the special counsel’s legitimacy in court, went through a bitter trial and landed himself in jail after prosecutors discovered he had attempted to tamper with witnesses in his case.
In the latest filing, Mueller’s team said Manafort “committed federal crimes” by lying about “a variety of subject matters” even after he agreed to truthfully cooperate with the investigation. Prosecutors said they will detail the “nature of the defendant’s crimes and lies” in writing at a later date to the judge.
Through his attorneys, Manafort denied lying, saying he “believes he provided truthful information” during a series of sessions with Mueller’s investigators. He also disagreed that he breached his plea agreement. Still, both sides now agree they can’t resolve the conflict, and U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson should set a date to sentence him.
Manafort, who remains jailed, had been meeting with the special counsel’s office since he pleaded guilty in September to conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice. He cut that deal to head off a second trial after being convicted last summer of eight felony counts related to millions of dollars he hid from the IRS in offshore accounts.
Both cases stemmed from his Ukrainian political work and undisclosed lobbying work he admitted to carrying out in the U.S. in violation of federal law.
As part of his plea agreement, Manafort pledged to “cooperate fully, truthfully, completely, and forthrightly” with the government “in any and all matters” prosecutors deemed necessary. That included his work on the Trump campaign as well as his Ukrainian political work, which remains under investigation by the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Prosecutors there are looking into the conduct of longtime Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta, former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig and former Republican congressman and lobbyist Vin Weber to determine whether they violated federal law by failing to register as foreign agents with the Justice Department. None of the men has been charged with any crimes.
As part of his plea deal, Manafort also forfeited many of his rights as well as his ability to withdraw the plea if he broke any of the terms. In return, prosecutors agreed to not bring additional charges against him and to ask a judge for a reduction of his sentence if he provided “substantial assistance.”
But with prosecutors saying he breached the agreement, Manafort now faces serious repercussions such as the possibility of prosecution on additional charges including the 10 felony counts prosecutors dropped when he made the deal.
Manafort already faces up to five years in prison on the two charges in his plea agreement. In his separate Virginia case, Manafort’s potential sentencing under federal guidelines has not yet been calculated, but prosecutors have previously said he could face as much as 10 years in prison on those charges.
He is scheduled to be sentenced in that case in February. His co-defendant, Rick Gates, who spent a longer time on the campaign and worked on the Trump inaugural committee, has not had a sentencing date set yet. He continues to cooperate with Mueller.