Kellyanne Conway on Tuesday shrugged off White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ false claim that thousands of terrorists are crossing into the U.S. from Mexico as merely “an unfortunate misstatement.”
The top White House adviser, during an interview with Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle,” downplayed the controversy surrounding Sanders’ repeated ― and incorrect ― assertions that terrorists are flooding the southern border.
Sanders on Friday told “Fox & Friends” that “nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists” had crossed into the U.S. from Mexico last year. She cited the statistic again two days later on “Fox News Sunday,” but host Chris Wallace pushed back on her claim, noting that most of the people she referenced had been apprehended at airports ― not the southern border.
In reality, border officials caught a total of six people on a security watchlist at the Mexico border over a six-month period last year, NBC reported Monday.
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Kellyanne Conway in her White House role
Kellyanne Conway in her White House role
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway winks and waves at the news media as she goes to make a TV appearance at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., June 13, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
Senior advisor Kellyanne Conway (L) attends as U.S. President Donald Trump (behind desk) welcomes the leaders of dozens of historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 27, 2017. Jonathan Ernst: "We're often asked how much access we have to the Trump administration, and the answer is we have an awful lot. President Trump himself is very comfortable in the spotlight, and his aides are similarly unfazed by cameras. In this instance, senior advisor Kellyanne Conway was so comfortable in our presence she seemed not to consider the optics of kneeling on a Oval Office sofa to take pictures with her phone." REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo SEARCH "POY TRUMP" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2017 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
First Lady of the United States Melania Trump and Kellyanne Conway listen as doctors from Cincinnati Children Hospital talk about children's health at the hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio, February 5, 2018. REUTERS/ John Sommers II
White House Senior Advisor Kellyanne Conway speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, U.S., February 23, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
White House Communications Director Hope Hicks (C) departs as she and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway (L) stand on the sidelines while U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. February 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway (L) laughs with other aides before U.S. President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in delivered joint statements from the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, U.S. June 30, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway whispers to Senior Advisor Jared Kushner before U.S. President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in delivered joint statements from the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, U.S. June 30, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway arrives for a meeting with the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis in Washington, U.S., June 16, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Vice President Mike Pence and White House senior advisor Kellyanne Conway leave after attending a Republican party policy lunch meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. July 11, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
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(L-R) Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Press Secretary Sean Spicer and Senior Advisor Stephen Miller walk on the South Lawn of the White House upon their return with President Donald Trump to Washington, U.S., May 17, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway arrives at Newark International airport in Newark, NJ U.S., with President Donald Trump, June 9, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway and Keith Schiller, deputy assistant to the president and director of Oval Office operations, follow U.S. President Donald Trump to Marine One as he departs for a day trip to Kenosha, Wisconsin, from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., April 18, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
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White House Senior Advisor Kellyanne Conway waves as she arrives to speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, U.S., February 23, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Senior advisors Stephen Miller and Kellyanne Conway watch as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Donald Trump hold a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., March 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
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White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, attended the joint press conference of President Donald Trump and President Klaus Iohannis of Romania, in the Rose Garden of the White House, on Friday, June 9, 2017. (Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 05: White House Senior Advisor, Kellyanne Conway (L), stand with White House Communications Director, Hope Hicks, during a news conference with U.S. President Donald Trump and King Abdullah II of Jordan, at the White House April 5, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump held talks on Middle East peace process and other bilateral issues with King Abdullah II. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
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Kellyanne Conway, senior counselor to US President Donald Trump, walks to a House Republican conference meeting at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on March 23, 2017.
US President Donald Trump held last-minute negotiations with fellow Republicans to avoid a humiliating defeat Thursday in his biggest legislative test to date, as lawmakers vote on an Obamacare replacement plan which conservatives threaten to sink. / AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 21: Kellyanne Conway, aide to President Donald Trump, arrives in the Capitol for Trump's meeting with the House Republican Conference on Tuesday, March 21, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 10: Counselor to the President Donald Trump, Kellyanne Conway attends the swearing in ceremony of Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) to be the new Health and Human Services Secretary., on February 10, 2017 in Washington, DC. Conway has been under fire for her comments about Ivanka Trump's clothing line during a TV interview. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway poses with a guest prior to a "celebration of America" event on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 5, 2018. The event was arranged after Trump canceled the planned visit of the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles to the White House. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, recipient of the 2018 Distinguished Leader Award by the Susan B. Anthony List, listens as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the Susan B. Anthony List 11th Annual Campaign for Life Gala at the National Building Museum in Washington, U.S., May 22, 2018. REUTERS/Al Drago
White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway speaks with a guest before U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks regarding the Administration's National Security Strategy at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington D.C, U.S., December 18, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
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“It’s a much smaller threat than you describe,” host Laura Ingraham told Conway. “Doesn’t that hurt the credibility of the White House when we don’t get these basic facts right and someone’s not doing their homework?”
Conway responded that Sanders had accidentally “conflated” numbers from several different border security reports.
The explanation seemed to pass the smell test for Ingraham, who then suggested Sanders was being treated unfairly by the press.
“They’re cherry-picking. This is what they do,” Ingraham said of media outlets calling out Sanders’ falsehoods. “We all kind of make mistakes. We’re talking, you know, all day long.”
Conway agreed, “Yeah, that was an unfortunate misstatement. And everybody makes mistakes ― all of us. The fact is it’s corrected here.”
But Sanders isn’t the only Trump administration official to make misleading statements about border security while defending President Donald Trump’s demand for $5 billion to build his long-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen last week said U.S. Customs and Border Protection had “stopped over 3,000 what we call ‘special-interest aliens’ trying to come into the country on the southern border. Those are aliens who the intel community has identified are of concern.”
Wallace on Sunday pointed out that “special-interest aliens” are simply people who come from a country that has ever produced a terrorist. And Vice President Mike Pence made an outrageous claim to The Washington Post in October that 10 terrorists or suspected terrorists had been captured at the southern border every day in the last fiscal year.