Trump slams '60 Minutes' over report on family separations

President TrumpDonald John TrumpREAD: Transcript of James Comey's interview with House Republicans Klobuchar on 2020: ‘I do think you want voices from the Midwest’ Israel boycott fight roils Democrats in year-end spending debate MORE on Sunday slammed CBS's "60 Minutes" over an evening report about his administration's "zero tolerance" policy, which resulted in the separation of thousands of children from their parents at the southern border. 

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The "60 Minutes" report concluded that the Trump administration separated migrant children from their parents at the border for more time than most people realized, pursuing a "pilot" family separation program in 2017.   

". did a phony story about child separation when they know we had the exact same policy as the Obama Administration," Trump wrote on Twitter. 

"In fact, a picture of children in jails was used by other Fake Media to show how bad (cruel) we are, but it was in 2014 during O years," the president added, likely a reference to a 2014 photo that several media outlets and Democrats shared thinking they were taken in 2018. 

Trump has repeatedly asserted, misleadingly, that his administration's policy is the same as former President Obama's. While the Obama administration did separate some children from their parents at the border, it was not a "zero tolerance" policy and did not happen with the same frequency as it did under Trump. 

In regards to the photo Trump referenced, Cecilia Muñoz, who served as the director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, told NPR that it was taken at a time when there was "an enormous spike ... in the number of kids crossing alone into the United States." 

"Kids ended up piling up in Border Patrol lock-ups, which are no places for children," Muñoz explained in May

Trump said that Obama, as well as former President George W. Bush, separated children from their parents because "that is the policy and law." It was neither a policy nor a law under Trump's predecessors.

"I tried to keep them together but the problem is, when you do that, vast numbers of additional people storm the Border," Trump said. "So with Obama seperation [sic] is fine, but with Trump it’s not. Fake 60 Minutes!" 

The "60 Minutes" report included an interview with Scott Shuchart, a former senior adviser to the officer for civil rights and civil liberties at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Shuchart told CBS that the policy was pushed through from the top without insight from DHS officials.

"We were being asked as a department to do something that violated the civil rights and civil liberties of persons," Shuchart, who left the agency around the same time, said. "And my office was being frozen out of that process. There wasn't a job responsibly for me to do."

The Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy resulted in more than 2,000 children being separated from their parents over the span of 11 weeks earlier this year. The policy led to a political firestorm, with activists and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle raging over images of children detained in filthy and bleak conditions.

Trump signed an executive order ending the policy in June and federal judges mandated that children be returned to their parents.

"60 Minutes" obtained a full memo that showed the goal of the family separations was to "deter" more immigrants from coming into the country. There is no evidence that the policy deterred immigration or brought down the number of people seeking to enter the U.S.

--This report was updated on Nov. 26 at 8:59 a.m.