President Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski is refusing to apologize for his reaction to the story of a 10-year-old girl with Down syndrome who was reportedly separated from her mother after crossing the border illegally.
“An apology?” Lewandowski asked on Fox News Wednesday morning. “I owe an apology to the children whose parents are putting them in a position that is forcing them to be separated.”
Lewandowski, who reportedly remains an informal Trump adviser, pivoted to talking points — distributed by the White House last week — that highlight cases of American families that have been “permanently separated” from children murdered by people who immigrated illegally to the U.S.
“We owe an apology to Jamiel Shaw and Brian Terry and Kate Steinle’s family [from those] who have allowed those individuals to be killed by illegal aliens,” Lewandowski said. “The American people owe an apology to those people. When you cross the border illegally, you have committed a crime — and there is accountability for committing crimes, and there should be.”
Appearing on a Fox News panel on Tuesday night, Lewandowski ignited a firestorm when he interrupted former Democratic strategist Zac Petkanas, who said he had read about about “a 10-year-old girl with Down syndrome who was taken from her mother and put in a cage.”
“Womp womp,” Lewandowski interjected.
“Did you just say ‘womp womp’ to a 10-year-old with Down syndrome being taken from her mother? How dare you,” Petkanas said. “How dare you. How absolutely dare you, sir.”
.@Zac_Petkanas says on Fox News a 10-year-old girl with Down Syndrome was separated from her mother at the border.
Corey Lewandowski responds: "Womp womp." pic.twitter.com/cZMXWmwbjw
— Jon Passantino (@passantino) June 19, 2018
Lewandowski’s comment stirred swift outrage.
“There is no low to which this coward Corey Lewandowski won’t sink,” said Megyn Kelly, a former Fox host who is now at NBC. “This man should not be afforded a national platform to spew his hate.”
“This is so horrible, even by Lewandowski standards,” Meghan McCain tweeted.
On Twitter Wednesday, Lewandowski insisted he wasn’t mocking the child or her mother, but rather Petkanas for relaying their story.
“Lots of Fake News today,” Lewandowski tweeted. “I mocked a liberal who attempted to politicize children, as opposed to discussing the real issue which is fixing a broken immigration system.”
He added: “It’s offenseive [sic] that the MSM doesn’t want to talk about the fact these policies were started under Obama.”
“No one should be surprised that a core member of Trump’s team is standing by both this callous remark and the president’s unprecedented, repugnant policy separating children from their parents,” Petkanas wrote in an email to Yahoo News. “Unfortunately, it’s clear that his attitude is representative of the sociopaths who choose to work at this White House and of those who make a living defending its immoral agenda.”
The Trump administration is facing a growing bipartisan backlash for its “zero-tolerance policy” on illegal immigration, which has resulted in more than 2,000 children being separated from their families since April, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
Trump has falsely blamed Democrats for supporting immigration laws that he says have given his administration no choice but to separate children from their families. There is no U.S. law requiring that the children of immigrants entering the country illegally be separated from their parents. This administration — unlike the previous two — is treating the adults as criminals and jailing them, which requires them to be separated from their children.
“When you are prosecute the parents for coming in illegally — which should happen — you have to take the children away,” Trump said Monday, before adding: “Now, you don’t have to prosecute them, but then we’re not prosecuting them for coming in illegally.”
Read more from Yahoo News:
- Trump: ‘The United States will not be a migrant camp’
- Nielsen: Separating families isn’t a ‘policy,’ it’s just something we do
- White House on border separations: ‘It’s biblical to enforce the law’
- Fox News doubles down on caging kids as ‘essentially summer camps’
- Crying for ‘Mami’ and ‘Papá’ at a Border Patrol detention center