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President Donald Trump cast Democrats as supporters of MS-13 gang members and uninterested in fighting crime.
Trump routinely brings up brutal crimes committed by MS-13 members while highlighting his administration’s goal to incarcerate or deport them from the United States.
At the May 22 Susan B. Anthony List’s Campaign for Life Gala, Trump claimed Democrats want open borders and don’t want to stop illegal immigration.
"And the other day — just the other day — Nancy Pelosi came out in favor of MS-13," Trump said. "That’s the first time I’ve heard that. She wants them to be treated with respect, as do other Democrats."
Trump repeated the charge against House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on May 23 during a roundtable discussion on MS-13, saying: "I noticed recently where Democrats, Nancy Pelosi as an example, are trying to defend MS-13 gang members. I called them animals the other day and I was met with rebuke. They said, ‘they are people.’ They are not people. These are animals."
We wondered about Trump’s claim that Pelosi "came out in favor of MS-13" and that she has defended gang members. Trump distorted the facts.
Pelosi said "calling people animals is not a good thing," but did not focus her comments on MS-13 gang members.
Trump made headlines earlier this month after labeling some people who come to the United States as "animals." His comment came during an immigration meeting with California officials.
While Trump did not specifically mention MS-13 gang members in the "animals" sentence, his statement came after a sheriff spoke about "bad guys" and MS-13 gang members. (Here’s the full context.)
Some interpreted Trump as saying all immigrants are "animals."
Trump went on Twitter May 18 to fight back that assessment: "Fake News Media had me calling Immigrants, or Illegal Immigrants, ‘Animals.’ Wrong! They were begrudgingly forced to withdraw their stories. I referred to MS 13 Gang Members as ‘Animals,’ a big difference - and so true. Fake News got it purposely wrong, as usual!" Trump tweeted.
Pelosi clearly chose the interpretation of Trump’s words at the roundtable that was least favorable to Trump. But that doesn’t mean she was embracing violent gang members.
At a May 17 press conference, the day after Trump’s "animals" comment, Pelosi said "calling people animals is not a good thing" and defended "undocumented immigrants." She did not mention MS-13 gang members.
Pelosi said "we're all God's children" and spoke about "a spark of divinity in every person on Earth."
"And so when the president of the United States says about undocumented immigrants, ‘These aren't people. These are animals,’ you have to wonder, does he not believe in the spark of divinity, the dignity and worth of every person? ‘These are not people. These are animals.’ The president of the United States," Pelosi said.
White House spokesman Steven Cheung said in an emailed statement, "Pelosi either is peddling an out-of-context quote that mainstream media outlets have corrected or retracted (AP and CNN), or defending MS-13 gang members whose motto is rape, control, and kill."
The White House said the "animals" term is language Trump has used before when talking about MS-13 gang members.
Still, Pelosi did not defend MS-13 gang members or come out in their favor, as Trump claimed. She centered her comments on "undocumented immigrants" and rebuked using the word "animals" to refer to people.
Trump said Pelosi "came out in favor of MS-13."
Trump’s claim is based on Pelosi’s criticism of Trump for using the word "animals" during an immigration meeting with California officials. Trump used that term after a sheriff spoke about MS-13 gang members.
A day after Trump’s comment, Pelosi said "calling people animals is not a good thing" and defended "undocumented immigrants." Pelosi did not mention MS-13 gang members in her comments.
While Trump blasted media reports and others for missing the context of his remarks, he did just that with Pelosi’s comment. We rate it False.
WhiteHouse.gov, Remarks by President Trump at the Susan B. Anthony List 11th Annual Campaign for Life Gala, May 22, 2018
Email exchange, White House spokesman Steven Cheung, May 23, 2018
Email exchange, Rep. Nancy Pelosi press office, May 23, 2018
PolitiFact, In Context: Donald Trump's comments about immigrants, ‘animals’, May 17, 2018
Twitter, @AP tweet, May 17, 2018
Twitter, @realdonaldtrump tweet, May 18, 2018
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