The Trump administration struggled to contain the fallout as outrage over migrant children being separated from their parents at the border accelerated on Monday.
As more and more disturbing stories and images have come out in recent days showing the children’s plight, the administration has been unable to get its story straight on the matter, with different officials offering different, even false, explanations of why the separations are happening and what kind of policy this is. Some White House officials have taken to shifting the blame elsewhere, saying, wrongly, that only Congress can ensure the families are not separated. President Trump, meanwhile, has specifically, and repeatedly, blamed Democrats. But the administration’s story is only getting more complicated as the backlash becomes more intense.
As Monday wore on, the only official word on the separations coming from the White House was through presidential tweets. The White House delayed its press briefing, originally scheduled for 1:15 p.m. ET, multiple times, until Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen would be taking questions at a 5 p.m. session. In the time it took for the briefing to finally begin, another potentially damaging story emerged: Nielsen took the podium a little over an hour after ProPublica published leaked audio from a Customs and Border Protection facility in Texas last week of young children wailing for their parents.