Due process sometimes seems like a foreign concept to the Biden administration, particularly when it comes to how it deals with the crisis at the border.
This bedrock legal principle — so important that it appears twice in the U.S. Constitution — came to mind after President BidenJoe Biden White House: US has donated 200 million COVID-19 vaccines around the world Police recommend charges against four over Sinema bathroom protest K Street revenues boom MORE declared during a short press conference on Friday that his own Border Patrol agents were guilty and would be punished.
"To see people treated like they did, horses barely running over, people being strapped," Biden said of Border Patrol agents on horseback who were accused of whipping Haitian migrants trying to cross the southern border. "It's outrageous. I promise you those people will pay. There will be an investigation underway now, and there will be consequences. There will be consequences."
"Those people will pay." So much for innocent until proven guilty.
To use one of the president’s favorite phrases, here's the deal: It turns out the photographer who took the photos that went viral of border agents on horseback in Del Rio, Texas, says no migrants were being whipped and that the photos were misconstrued.
"Some of the Haitian men started running, trying to go around the horses," Paul Ratje told KTSM in El Paso, Texas. "I’ve never seen them whip anyone. ... He was swinging it, but it can be misconstrued when you’re looking at the picture."
Yep — it turns out the "whips" that so many in the media — and some in the Biden administration – said were being used were actually bridle reins, which riders use to help direct their horses.
When asked if the president had prejudged the investigation, the White House press secretary said he had done no such thing.
"The president was not prejudging the outcome of the investigation," Jen PsakiJen PsakiRegional powers rally behind Taliban's request for humanitarian aid Cawthorn, Lee introduce bills banning interstate travel vaccine mandate Biden, Democrats risk everything unless they follow the Clinton pivot (they won't) MORE told reporters Friday. "The president was responding from his heart and responding to seeing horrific photos."
The spin is comical, even by D.C. standards.
The false narrative continued to get pushed on national television, including on ABC's “The View.”
"Madam Vice President, we've been discussing those disturbing images of U.S. border agents on horseback inhumanely corralling Haitians at the U.S. southern border," said co-host Sara Haines. "And you've been tasked with immigration. How do you explain this?"
"Human beings should not be treated that way," Harris responded in finally addressing an issue — the border crisis — she's in charge of. "It also invoked images of some of the worst moments of our history, where that kind of behavior has been used against the Indigenous people of our country. It has been used against African Americans during times of slavery."
Border Patrol is pushing back on the administration, and rightly so.
"Now that the president of the United States has already said they did wrong, how is an investigator supposed to do a true and honest investigation?" asked Brandon Judd, head of the National Border Patrol Council. "Because if that investigator finds they did nothing wrong — and they didn’t do anything wrong — but if that investigator finds they didn’t do anything wrong, how is that investigator’s job going to go?"
So, what does the public think of the Biden administration’s handling of the border?
According to the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, 37 percent of American adults are “not at all confident,” while an additional 20 percent are “not too confident” in its handling of immigration, according to a poll released Thursday. Notably, since March, the administration’s approval on immigration policy has dropped 12 points among Democrats and 10 percent among independents.
Overall, more than 1.5 million people have entered the U.S. illegally under this administration's watch.
Conditions at the border are horrific. There are reports of overcrowding and abuse of women and young girls, all while almost none of those entering have been vaccinated at a time when the U.S. is losing an average of more than 2,000 people a day to COVID-19. No wonder morale among border agents is at an all-time low.
But the president and vice president and their media allies just couldn't help themselves. Someone else needed to be blamed for this fiasco. And this time they couldn’t blame former President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump announces new social media network called 'TRUTH Social' Virginia State Police investigating death threat against McAuliffe Meadows hires former deputy AG to represent him in Jan. 6 probe: report MORE.
Enter the Border Patrol, which should be awarded with medals at the White House for its tireless work throughout this crisis.
Instead, it's declared guilty based on one misconstrued photograph.
Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist for The Hill.