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Republican lawmaker compares child-separation policy to Paul Manafort’s jail time



A Republican lawmaker likened the Trump administration’s discontinued child-separation policy at the US-Mexico border to the fate of President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who faces increased scrutiny after allegedly breaching his plea agreement to charges of conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

“I’m always glad to fill in the gaps of people’s knowledge or ignorance in a particular area,” Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas said during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on immigration and border security. “So let me just state for those who are not aware … parents are separated from children every single day of every year, year after year.”

“And parents who have probable cause, they committed a crime, are separated from their children and those are usually US citizens,” Gohmert added. “It’s what happens when a parent is believed to have committed a crime. [Special counsel Robert Mueller] did it, I know he’s a hero to some folks around here, he did it to Manafort, separated him from his two beautiful children. It happens.”

Manafort is the father of two adult daughters: Jessica, an independent filmmaker who reportedly changed her last name to distance herself from an unwanted “public perception,” and Andrea, who described her father as someone with “no moral or legal compass” and a “a sick f—ing tyrant,” according to hacked text messages.

Manafort was initially indicted in October 2017 as part of Mueller’s probe, and has been in prison since June.

Paul Manafort.
AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Read more: Migrant father contradicts US officials, says his 7-year-old daughter who died in Border Patrol custody was given no water for 8 hours

Earlier this year, Trump faced fierce backlash against the so-called “zero-tolerance” immigration policy, which because parents were being prosecuted for crossing the border illegally, automatically separated parents from their children if they crossed the border illegally. In June, Trump reversed course and allowed them to remain together in federal custody until their trial in court.

Speaking to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on Thursday, Gohmert added that he was disgusted by the characterization of the Department of Homeland Security from his Democratic colleagues and some media reports.

“It grieves me, for anyone that’s part of this committee, to slander you and be remorseless when they make … comments about you or … people in the administration that simply want to enforce the law,” Gohmert said. “I don’t hear any of that kind of outrage on behalf of victims of crime, including children who are victims of crime.”

Recent reports at the border sparked public outrage after a 7-year-old child from Guatemala died while in the custody of US Border Patrol. Initial reports suggested he died of dehydration; however, her father disputed the case, saying his child received no water while in custody.

Homeland Security described the death as unfortunate and reportedly said the child was in custody for around eight hours before she began having seizures. According to US Customs and Border Protection, she “reportedly had not eaten or consumed water for several days.”

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