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White House hits Britt for ‘debunked lies’ in State of the Union rebuttal

The White House on Sunday chastised Sen. Katie Britt (R-Ala.) after multiple news organizations fact-checked a portion of her rebuttal to President Biden’s State of the Union in which she told the story of a migrant who was sexually abused.

“Instead of telling more debunked lies to justify opposing the toughest bipartisan border legislation in modern history, Senator Britt should stop choosing human smugglers and fentanyl traffickers over our national security and the Border Patrol Union,” deputy press secretary Andrew Bates said in a statement. “Like President Biden said in his State of the Union, ‘We have a simple choice: We can fight about fixing the border or we can fix it.’”

Britt used much of her rebuttal to slam Biden on his handling of the southern border. To illustrate her point, she described how she met a woman at the U.S.-Mexico border who recounted being raped thousands of times in a sex trafficking operation run by cartels, starting at age 12.

“We wouldn’t be OK with this happening in a third-world country. This is the United States of America, and it’s past time we start acting like it,” Britt said in the Thursday night speech. “President Biden’s border crisis is a disgrace.”

But independent journalist Jonathan Katz first reported that the woman Britt was talking about was not related to the Biden administration’s policies, nor did her abuse take place in the U.S. The Associated Press, Washington Post and other outlets all confirmed that Britt’s story was referring to Karla Jacinto Romero, who testified before Congress in 2015 about being forced to work in Mexican brothels from 2004 to 2008.

A spokesperson for Britt confirmed to those outlets she was talking about Romero, but disputed that the senator’s language was misleading. Britt met Romero during a 2023 trip to the border.

In a “Fox News Sunday” interview with Shannon Bream, Britt brushed off the criticism, claiming the story is symbolic of the president’s border policy.

The White House has criticized Britt and other Republicans for opposing a bipartisan border security bill in the Senate that would have provided additional resources to Border Patrol, ended “catch and release” policies and tightened restrictions on asylum and how many migrants can enter the country.

The bill was crafted by Sens. James Lankford (R-Okla.), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), but Republican lawmakers lined up to oppose it after former President Trump discouraged them from voting for it.

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