On Thursday's edition of MSNBC's "The Beat," Ari Melber confronted acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan about President Donald Trump's empty threat of "mass raids" of communities nationwide by immigration officials — and Morgan was not pleased.
"The president said there would be these mass raids. Described as thousands of arrests," said Melber. "Were there mass raids, yes or no?"
"First of all, I don’t actually call this a raid," said Morgan. "I think words matter."
"Words matter, so I’m going to get to your response," said Melber. "Were there mass raids as promised?"
"Again, these are not raids," said Morgan. "These are targeted enforcement operations. And you know."
"Okay, let me play for you, let me play for you what people did say about numbers," said Melber. "The president tweeted about millions, then the administration said thousands and this is what your boss, the president, said."
"It starts on Sunday," said President Donald Trump in the video clip. "And they’re going to take people out and they’re going to bring them back to their countries or they’re going to take criminals out, put them prison ... Many, many were taken out on Sunday. You didn’t know about it. We had many people. It was a very successful day but you didn’t see a lot of it."
"What you just said disagrees with President Trump," Melber added. "You’re saying in fact there were not, no, sir, those mass raids."
"No, that’s not what I said," said Morgan. "You’re putting words in my mouth. Everything that you just played is absolutely correct. There are over a million individuals here illegally with an order of removal. ICE does this every single day. Yes, there was an operation, which they do every single day.
"Was it in the thousands?" Melber pressed him.
"This is what ICE does every single day," replied Morgan mulishly.
"Was it in the thousands?" Melber asked again. "I know you can hear me."
"First of all, I’m no longer the director of ICE," said Morgan. "With respect to the results of the operations on going operations, ICE is the best person and best position to give you those numbers."
"You were here because you have authority," said Melber. "You have authority over people’s lives. You’re at CBP, used to be at ICE. You were in these meetings. We’re trying to draw information. If your position is the president was wrong to claim mass raids occurred, that’s important for people to know. If your position is mass raids did occur—"
"You’re putting words in my mouth," said Morgan.
"I’m not, sir. I’m not putting words in your mouth," said Melber. "Let me put up the facts and I’ll give you a chance. Multiple outlets, not a lot of debate here, despite weeks of threats, raids began with a whimper. Large scale raids failed to materialize ... No reports of mass arrests. When the president of the United States says multiple times that there are going to be these mass raids in the thousands, when you heard [acting USCIS Director Ken] Cuccinelli say it is absolutely going to happen and it did not happen, what is your response to that? And isn’t it problematic, if not all together misleading, for the United States to announce things repeatedly, not do them, and then president to say actually they did happen."
"I disagree completely with your characterization what was said," said Morgan. "From a law enforcement perspective ... you will not find a single law enforcement officer that referred to this as mass raids or gave all the numbers that were going to happen with this targeted operation.
"So the president overstated it in his tweets?" Melber asked.
"No, no, in my opinion, if you look at the facts of what he was saying and if you look an the facts presented, when had somebody says there are over a million people here with final orders of removal, no one said that a single operation we were going to target and apprehend thousands in one operation. No one said that."
"I’m going to move forward with the time we have," said Melber. "I just showed the viewers, who also follow the news, the president said it. He wrote it. He posted it to the internet. And Mr. Cuccinelli said it was absolutely going to happen."