Reality TV star Donald Trump's claim last month that hordes of Mexican rapists are streaming over the southern border has been shown to be based on an inaccurate reading of a single news story, but that hasn't stopped his team from defending it as "partially true."
"It may not be nice, but it happens to be potentially and partially true," the 2016 Republican presidential candidates' adviser Michael Cohen said Monday on CNN. "What Donald Trump has done is he sparked a conversation about, really, immigration reform, and that's something that I don't think the Republican Party was prepared at this time for."
"Partially true is not enough true," CNN host Chris Cuomo responded, "not for him if he wants to be a leader."
"Well, maybe that's correct," the candidate's advisor conceded.
Trump said during his campaign launch in June that Mexico is dumping its undesirables on American soil. "They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists," he said.
His comments sparked an immediate backlash, prompting multiple businesses to cut ties with multi-billion dollar empire. Trump at first stood by his comments, citing as proof of his claim a 2014 Fusion report alleging, "80 percent of Central American girls and women crossing Mexico en route to the United States are raped along the way."
"Eighty percent of the women coming in," Trump said in a CNN interview in June. "You have to take a look at these stories. ... It's unbelievable, when you look at what's going on. All I'm doing is telling the truth."
CNN's Don Lemon correctly explained that the Fusion article found only that many of the women crossing the border have been raped, not that rapists are crossing the border. The story said rapists could be criminal gangs, traffickers or even government officials, along with other migrants.
"Well, someone's doing the raping," Trump replied, apparently surprised that the article supporting his rapist claim was more subtle than how he portrayed it.
The 2016 candidate and his team have since adopted a new strategy for defending his controversial remarks, saying now that he didn't really say what he said about Mexican immigrants.
"Mr. Trump never made any derogatory or disparaging comments about Mexican immigrants," Cohen said Monday on CNN. "He was talking about Mexico. They're allowing people to pour through their borders and that's a problem for our national security."
However, Trump's claim that Mexico is "forcing" criminals and malcontents into the United States would also appear to be inaccurate.
The crime rate for "first-generation immigrants — those who came to this country from somewhere else — is significantly lower than the overall crime rate and that of the second generation," the Pew Research Center found in 2013.
Prior to that, a study published by Justice Quarterly found in 2012 that, "foreign-born individuals exhibit remarkably low levels of involvement in crime across their life course."
Asked Monday whether Trump has considered apologizing for his controversial remarks, Cohen said there is no need, as the 2016 candidate had not insulted anybody.
"Many of them are using the language and the unfortunate liberal media's attack upon Mr. Trump to go ahead and jump all over him," Cohen said.