White House press secretary Sarah Sanders and a trio of reporters had a tense and heated exchange during Thursday's press briefing regarding the separation of children from their parents at the United States' border with Mexico.
It began when CNN's Jim Acosta asked why the administration is separating families when they illegally come to the border seeking admittance. Acosta referenced a speech by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday in which he cited the Bible as a partial defense of the practice.
"I can say that it is very biblical to enforce the law," Sanders said to Acosta, who interrupted her answer. "That is actually repeated a number of times throughout the Bible."
After Acosta started to defend the text of his question, Sanders got personal.
"That's not what I said, and I know it's hard for you to understand even short sentences I guess," Sanders said. At least two other members of the media could then be heard chastising Sanders for the remark.
After some more heated back and forth, Sanders moved onto CBS News reporter Paula Reid, who noted separating families at the border is not part of any law.
"Again, the laws are the ones that have been on the books over a decade – the president is enforcing them," said Sanders, who then called on Democrats to come to the table and work with Republicans to fix the nation's broken immigration system.
Reid continued her fiery line of questioning and talked over Sanders, saying the administration is not taking responsibility for changing how it handles immigration cases from civil matters to criminal ones.
"That's been this administration's policy since the day we got here," Sanders said.
Reid countered, "No. Jeff Sessions made a decision in April that he was moving from handling it as a civil matter to criminal, and separating families. Your administration said it was a deterrent. They're separating families to deter people from coming here illegally."
Sanders stated the administration has not wavered from its stance of enforcing existing immigration laws since President Donald Trump took office in January 2017.
Sanders then tried to move on to another reporter's question, but Playboy's White House correspondent Brian Karem interrupted with an aggressive response to Sanders' handling of the immigration topic.
"Come on Sarah, you're a parent," Karem shouted. "Don't you have any empathy for what these people are going through? They have less than you do."
Here is the rest of their exchange:
Sanders: "Brian, gosh. Settle down. I'm trying to be serious, but I'm not going to have you yell out of turn."
Karem continued to talk over Sanders and said, "These people have nothing."
Sanders: "Brian, I know you want to get more TV time, but that's not what this is about."
Karem: "It's not that. It's not about that. It's about you not answering the question, Sarah. Honestly, answer the question. It's a serious question. These people have nothing, they come to the border with nothing, and you're throwing children in cages. You're a parent. You're a parent of young children. Don't you have any empathy for what they go through?"
Sanders ignored the question and moved onto someone else.
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