President Donald Trump erupted during a Q&A with reporters on Friday when CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta pressed him on the source of his dubious border crime data and asked if he was “concocting a national emergency here to get” his long-promised wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Acosta began by noting that U.S. border crossings are lower now than they have been in the past.
“I wonder if you could comment on this disconnect that we seem to have in this country where you are presenting information about what’s happening at the border,” Acosta said, “calling it an invasion, talking about women with duct tape over their mouths and so on, yet there is a lot of reporting out there, a lot of crime data out there, there is a lot of Department of Homeland Security data out there, that shows border crossings at a near record low.”
Trump interrupted Acosta, claiming there are still “massive numbers” of illegal border crossings.
Acosta continued, noting that his own government’s data shows “undocumented immigrants committing crimes at lower levels than native-born Americans.”
As we await the declaration of a national emergency on the southern border, this is what illegal border crossings actually look like over the last two decades, via Trump's own @CBP. pic.twitter.com/hpatp5YSsE
— Ben White (@morningmoneyben) February 15, 2019
“You don’t really believe that, do you?” Trump asked. “Do you really believe that? Look at our federal prisons.”
“I believe in facts and statistics,” Acosta responded.
“What do you say to your critics who say that you are creating a national emergency? That you are concocting a national emergency here to get your wall?” Acosta asked.
“What do you think?” Trump fired back. “Do you think I am creating something?”
Trump added: “Your question is a very political question because you have an agenda. You are CNN, fake news. You have an agenda.”
“The numbers that you gave are wrong,” Trump continued. “Take a look at our federal prison population. See how many of them percentage-wise are illegal aliens. Just see. Go ahead and see. It’s a fake question.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Thursday noted that “unauthorized border crossings are at their lowest levels in decades, about one-third of their peak levels two decades ago.”
There’s no national emergency at the border. Unauthorized border crossings are at their lowest levels in decades, about one-third of their peak levels two decades ago. If there were an emergency, the president wouldn’t have waited two years to make this political decision.
— Sen Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) February 14, 2019
Sen. Ted Lieu made a similar point:
Why didn't @realDonaldTrump declare a national emergency 35 days ago, or last year? Because he knows he will lose in court.
There is no national emergency:
-Border crossings at around a 20-year low
-Violent crime is down
-Property crime is down
-Immigrants commit less crime https://t.co/z664hA1ukJ
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) February 14, 2019