Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen spent several minutes during a hearing of the House Homeland Security committee on Wednesday trying to avoid an awkward situation in which she would contradict President Trump.
At issue was the President’s recent claim that there have “never [been] so many apprehensions ever in our history” of undocumented people attempting to cross the southern border. That is inaccurate — the number of crossings has hovered around a decades-long low for several years — but, under questioning from Rep. James Langevin (D-RI) Nielsen tied herself in knots in an apparent attempt to avoid contradicting Trump.
“So, Secretary Nielsen, what the President said was not accurate, was it?” Langevin asked.
“I apologize, I don’t know the full context of that,” Nielsen said, before pivoting to talk about the number of families apprehended at the border, a subset of total apprehensions.
“I just want to know, what the President said, is it accurate or not?” Langevin tried again.
Nieslen refused to answer — “I just don’t know the context of his statement,” she said — despite acknowledging a minute earlier that border apprehensions had decreased by several hundred thousand since 2000.
The volley continued for the rest of Langevin’s time, with Nielsen parsing “the type of migrant” the President might have been counting, refusing to admit Trump incorrectly asserted that the total number of migrants had broken records.
Watch Kirstjen Nielsen hilariously try to avoid lying to Congress while also avoiding calling the President a liar. pic.twitter.com/fZn3rbiGSl
— Matt Shuham (@mattshuham) March 6, 2019