(CN) - On Friday, hours after The Associated Press released a leaked draft of a Department of Homeland Security memo detailing plans to deploy up to 100,000 National Guardsmen to arrest immigrants in 11 states, President Donald Trump blasted “The FAKE NEWS media” as “the enemy of the American people! SICK!” and his top aides denied the truth of the memo. Also Friday, Homeland Security issued two more memos, repeating entire pages of the leaked memo virtually verbatim — leaving out only the parts about deploying the National Guard.
Under any other president, the rapid turn of events on a single day would have been extraordinary. Under this 30-day-old administration, it seemed just more of the same, in multiple ways:
- It demonstrated Trump’s hard line on deportation and immigration;
- It escalated his already difficult relations with the press — calling them not just an enemy of his administration, but an enemy of the people;
- It revealed an administration in disarray, with the White House press secretary seemingly unaware of events unfolding simultaneously at the Department of Homeland Security;
- And it showed the administration’s difficult relationship with the truth.
Timeline of Friday’s Events
At about 8:30 a.m. EST, The Associated Press released a long story with a link to a draft of the Jan. 25 DHS memo, “Implementing the President’s Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvement Policies.”
This 11-page draft says: "It implements new policy designed to deter illegal immigration” in line with Trump’s Jan. 25 executive orders on immigration, and it “supersedes all existing policy.” Government sources told the AP the draft memo was still being circulated among immigration offices on Feb. 10.
As is customary with breaking stories of important news, the AP issued repeated write-throughs on Friday — at least eight of them — adding comments from informed sources.
By 1 p.m. EST, newspapers and wire services were reporting the story around the world, with comments from White House press secretary Sean Spicer saying: “That is 100 percent not true. It is false. It is irresponsible to be saying this. … This is not a White House document.”
Only The Guardian, based in London, added the observation: “Using the present tense, he added: ‘There is no effort at all to round up, to utilize the National Guard to round up illegal immigrants.’” (Italics added.)
The Guardian also was the first news outlet to report that Spicer’s comment, “This is not a White House document,” was irrelevant, as no one had reported that it was. The draft had come from the Department of Homeland Security. In another semi-denial that day, deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that DHS Secretary John Kelly did not “put pen to paper” to write the memo.
At 4:48 p.m. Friday, Trump tweeted: “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”
This message had been preceded by a Trump tweet, quickly erased, that did not include ABC or CBS as enemies of the people, but ended with the word “SICK!”