'You are making me look like an idiot!': Trump reportedly raged at officials and told them to shoot migrants in the legs

'You are making me look like an idiot!': Trump reportedly raged at officials and told them to shoot migrants in the legs
Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

In a new book excerpt published by the New York Times on Tuesday, reporters Michael Shear and Julie Davis reveal a dark and disturbing portrait of the fulminations behind President Donald Trump's immigration policy, beginning in March 2019.


Trump was infuriated at the state of immigration at the southern U.S. border, and he was furious with his leading officials, the excerpt revealed. He was intent on closing down the entire U.S.-Mexico border, as he made clear publicly at the time, despite officials warning him that this would only make the situation worse.

But as ludicrous as the "shut down the border" idea was, it was far from the worst of Trump's ideas. The excerpt explained:

Privately, the president had often talked about fortifying a border wall with a water-filled trench, stocked with snakes or alligators, prompting aides to seek a cost estimate. He wanted the wall electrified, with spikes on top that could pierce human flesh. After publicly suggesting that soldiers shoot migrants if they threw rocks, the president backed off when his staff told him that was illegal. But later in a meeting, aides recalled, he suggested that they shoot migrants in the legs to slow them down. That’s not allowed either, they told him.

As horrible as Trump is in public when he discusses immigrants, these details somehow make it worse. He's not just a demagogue feeding the base desires of his supporters — he has menacingly vicious and delusional ideas about how U.S. policy could be used to brutalize migrants. And he actually wants these ideas implemented.

In one meeting, getting pushback from officials on his policies, Trump reportedly exclaimed: “You are making me look like an idiot!”

In addition to the brutality the excerpt reveals about Trump, it also highlights his misogyny. Describing his interactions with former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, the reporters recounted:

When Ms. Nielsen tried to get him to focus on something other than the border, the president grew impatient. During a briefing on the need for new legal authority to take down drones, Mr. Trump cut her off midsentence.

“Kirstjen, you didn’t hear me the first time, honey,” Mr. Trump said, according to two people familiar with the conversation. “Shoot ’em down. Sweetheart, just shoot ’em out of the sky, O.K.?”

It also corroborates other reports about Trump promising a pardon to Customs and Border Protection chief Kevin McAleenan if he violated the law and simply refused to admit asylum-seeking immigrants. Trump then repeated this command to border agents, according to the excerpt, and McAleenan had to subsequently inform them that order was wrong. Both of these acts should be considered impeachable offenses. In another lawless, move, Trump reportedly told Nielsen to simply steal the land of people on the U.S.-Mexico border to build his wall.

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