"AP reached out to the White House repeatedly beginning 24 hours before publishing this story and also asked the Department of Homeland Security for comment prior to publication," the AP's director of media relations told Business Insider. "We stand by ...and more »
White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, at the daily White
House briefing on January 23.
The White House quickly denied an explosive
Associated Press report published Friday morning that said
the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was seeking to mobilize
100,000 National Guard troops to round up and deport immigrants
living in the US illegally.
"It is false," the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer,
according to a pool report. "It is irresponsible to be saying
this. There is no effort at all to round up, to utilize the
National Guard to round up illegal immigrants."
"I wish you guys had asked before you tweeted," Spicer added.
An AP reporter, however, replied that the wire service had asked
the White House for comment multiple times before publishing the
report, which was based off of a leaked DHS draft memo.
AP story notes that neither the White House nor the
Department of Homeland Security responded to requests for
"AP reached out to the White House repeatedly beginning 24 hours
before publishing this story and also asked the Department of
Homeland Security for comment prior to publication,"Â the
AP'sÂ director of media relations told Business
Insider. "We stand by our reporting."
The incident reflects an emerging pattern noted by several top
political reporters in how the Trump administration handles its
most controversial policy proposals, and undermines the press in
1. Wait for a draft memo of a proposal to be leaked to the
press.2. Refuse to comment when asked about the draft.3. Wait to dispute a story's accuracy until the story is
published.4. Accuse the press of never having sought comment to begin with.
Trump has followed this pattern closely. In a press
conference on Thursday, he dismissed reports about his campaign
team's communication with Russia as "fake news," and said that
the Wall Street Journal and New York Times had never asked him
for comment before publishing their respective stories.
BothÂ outlets, however, either included a White House denial
or stated that the White House did not respond to requests for
Following the AP's report and the White House's rebuttalÂ on
Friday, NBC News politics reporter Benjy Sarlin questioned
on Twitter why the administration and the DHS waited to deny
the report until after it was published, despite apparently being
given the opportunity to comment.
New York Times political correspondent Maggie Haberman replied
that it was "almost like there's a pattern here."
"These are taxpayer-funded spokespeople," Haberman wrote,
referring to the White House and DHS press offices. "If memo is
not under serious consideration, why not say it ahead of time?"
"Taxpayer press office that has hours to devote to focusing on
palace intrigue stories and profiles does not respond to routine
questions," Haberman said.
Rep. Keith Ellison's press secretary, Isaiah Breen, also noted
the pattern on Friday.
"1. Get request for comment on a story. 2. Refuse to reply to
request for comment. 3. Deny once article is up, and don't
mention comment request," Breen tweeted
in response to Spicer's statements.
"Not answering the AP but then responding to the AP report by
saying it's wrong seems like a good way to perpetuate a fake news
narrative," New York magazine's White House correspondent, Olivia
"The very fast, coordinated denial of this story is almost as if
they wanted it to hit the wire before shooting it down," Politico's
chief White House correspondent, Shane Goldmacher, said.
The White House has not responded to the AP's assertion that it
did not respond to requests for comment, and official comments
published after the initial AP report have done little to clear
up the confusion.
A DHS representative told Business Insider that the AP report was
"incorrect" and that the department was "not considering
mobilizing the National Guard for immigration enforcement." But
another DHS official told
Cox Media producer Dorey Scheimer that the immigration memo
was "a very early, pre decisional draft... and was never
seriously considered by the Department."
A memo published in full by the AP titled "Implementing the
President's Border Security and Immigration Enforcement
Improvements Policies" appears to have been written by DHS
Secretary John Kelly and dated to January 25. But it does not
mention the AP's estimate that 100,000 National Guard troops
would be deployed.
The general confusion stemming from leaked memos and subsequent
denials from the administration is not new.
Draft memos outlining changes to the country's "religious
freedom" laws that would allow businesses to discriminate against
the LGBT community were shot down by the administration shortly
after they were leaked, as were memos detailing the possible
reinstatement of overseas CIA "black sites."
On both occasions, Spicer said the memos were "not White House
documents" and had not yet crossed the president's desk.
On Friday, Spicer contended that the leaked immigration memo
published by the AP was "not a White House document," according
to the pool report, but acknowledged that he didn't know whether
the draft memo had ever been considered by the DHS.
"I don't know what could potentially be out there, but I know
that there is no effort to do what is potentially suggested," he
The leak of the LGBT memo, meanwhile, allowed Trump's daughter
Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner â€” Trump's senior adviser â€”
credit for "sinking" a plan the administration said "would
never have reached the presidentâ€™s desk for his signature" in the
Similarly, Spicer denied that a draft memo leaked last month
proposing that the Guantanamo Bay detention facility remain open
and that the CIA's secret overseas prisons be reinstated was a
White House document.
Responding to the bipartisan backlash over the draft, however,
the White House
then circulated a revised document among National Security
Council staff members that removed language about the black sites
being reopened, according to The New York Times.
Washington Post reporters Radley Balko and Louisa Loveluck said
on Friday that the leaks themselves appeared to be part of a
"Leak an abhorrent policy under consideration. Refuse comment
when queried. After publication, declare policy absurd, scold
media. Repeat," Balko tweeted.
"1: Float outrageous draft plan. 2: Watch media explode. 3: Deny,
pursue less bad option. 4: Tell base the discredited media did it
again," Loveluck said.
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