Official Records Request Exposes Trump's Bigoted Claim About Terrorism As a Complete Lie
When President Donald Trump delivered a speech to Congress in February 2017, he made a claim he made struck many observers highly dubious.
“According to data provided by the Department of Justice," Trump said, "the vast majority of individuals convicted of terrorism and terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from outside of our country.”
Editor-in-Chief of Lawfare Ben Wittes, an expert in national security issues, was immediately suspicious. So he undertook an effort that eventually proved what he initially supposed: Trump's claim was a lie.
"It isn’t every day that the U.S. Department of Justice acknowledges formally that the President of the United States lied in a speech to Congress," Wittes wrote in a new post on Monday. "But that’s how I read a letter I received a few days ago from the department’s Office of Information Policy in connection with one of my Freedom of Information Act suits against the department."
Wittes filed FOIA requests for any documentation backing up Trump's claims about terrorism, and he sued the government when it failed to comply with his requests. And in the letter he has finally received from the Justice Department, the administration admitted that it had no records substantiating Trump's claim about DOJ "data."
I was confident the search would produce no responsive documents. And it, in fact, produced none.
Because what the President of the United States said before a joint session of Congress was not true. It wasn’t true about immigrants and terrorism. And neither was it true about the Justice Department.
He notes that the department itself doesn't outright say the president lied. But had it provided the White House with such data, it would have the records.
It's worth noting the exceptionally bigoted nature of Trump's lie. Given the complete absence of evidence for his claim and the fact that experts in the area could instantly recognize that it was false, it was clearly an unrepentant effort to rile up fear of foreigners in the United States.