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NADLER & LOFGREN DEMAND ANSWERS AFTER DOJ ANNOUNCEMENT REVEALS TRUMP APPEARS TO HAVE LIED BEFORE JOINT SESSION OF CONGRESS ABOUT IMMIGRATION CLAIMS BEHIND FIRST MUSLIM TRAVEL BAN

Aug 2, 2018

Washington, D.C. – Today, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), sent a letter to President Donald Trump, demanding answers regarding statements he made during a 2017 joint session of Congress that ultimately supported Trump’s decision to issue the first Muslim travel ban.

During a joint session of Congress in 2017, Trump noted that “[a]ccording to data provided by the Department of Justice, the vast majority of individuals convicted of terrorism and terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from outside of our country.” In August 2017, fact-checkers at The Washington Post found no statistical evidence from the Department of Justice to support that claim. On July 24, 2018, the Department of Justice announced that “no responsive records were located” to support Trump’s claim. 

In their letter, the Member’s wrote, “While we may disagree about the policies you were seeking to implement by way of your so-called “travel bans,” we hope we can all agree that any factual statements made to support this or any other Administration policy should be both accurate and made in good faith.  Making false statements before Congress obviously raises a number of very troubling issues and concerns for both the Congress and the Nation.”

Full text of the letter is available here and below. 

August 2, 2018

 

 

Donald J. Trump

President of the United States

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W.

Washington, D.C.

 

Dear President Trump:

We write to obtain from you directly an explanation as to how and why you came to make a statement before a joint session of Congress in 2017, that “[a]ccording to data provided by the Department of Justice, the vast majority of individuals convicted of terrorism and terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from outside of our country.”  According to recent information produced by the Department of Justice, this statement appears to have no basis in fact.

On February 28, 2017, you addressed the United States before a joint session of Congress.  In your speech, you made several statements that appear to support your decision to issue Executive Order 13769—commonly known as the first travel ban, which generally banned the entry of foreign nationals from seven majority, Muslim nations.  After noting your desire to “protect our nation from radical Islamic terrorism,” you stated that “[a]ccording to data provided by the Department of Justice, the vast majority of individuals convicted of terrorism and terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from outside of our country.” 

The veracity of this statement was widely questioned in the weeks and months that followed.  Ultimately, fact-checkers at The Washington Post concluded that your statement was unsupported by any available data from the Department of Justice.   Referencing your “grossly exaggerated misuse of federal data,” the Post awarded your statement “Four Pinocchios” due to its false and misleading character. 

This conclusion has now been reaffirmed in writing by the Justice Department.  In April 2017, the Department received two requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) seeking records and data supporting your claim before Congress.  Through the course of litigation related to those FOIA requests, an agreement appears to have been reached between the Justice Department and the Plaintiffs to limit the search to the statistical information the Department would have needed to support your claims.  On July 24, 2018, the Department of Justice noted that it had ended its search and that “no responsive records were located.”  

This formal response from the Department of Justice appears to acknowledge what many experts understood many months ago—that your statement as president of the United States to the American people in a joint session of Congress was simply and demonstrably false.

While we may disagree about the policies you were seeking to implement by way of your so-called “travel bans,” we hope we can all agree that any factual statements made to support this or any other Administration policy should be both accurate and made in good faith.  Making false statements before Congress obviously raises a number of very troubling issues and concerns for both the Congress and the Nation.  That is why we are asking you to help us understand how and why this particular statement was made.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

115th Congress