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Administration Admits Border Deployment Was a $200 Million Election Stunt

The military is leaving the southern border, and the caravan hasn’t even arrived yet.

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“You try keeping up with all these lies!”, Oliver Contreras - Pool/Getty Images

Several weeks before the midterm elections, worried that Democrats would sweep the House and start digging into his finances, Donald Trump started telling a series of bald-faced lies in an attempt to get people to vote Republican. One of them was that his trade war with China was just about to wrap up. Another was that Americans could kiss their “beautiful” 401(k)s goodbye if Dems flipped just one chamber of the Congress. The most elaborate by far, though, was about a migrant caravan made up of asylum-seekers approaching the U.S.-Mexico border. First, the president claimed, with no evidence, that “criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed” in with the group. Then he spread the quite obviously false rumor that liberal hedge-fund manager George Soros has been paying these people. Later, he declared that the caravan comprised mostly of women and children fleeing violence and poverty is “actually mostly men” who were “pushing the few kids right up to the front” when the cameras are out, and that a group of people planning to surrender at the border and ask for amnesty through the proper legal channels is no different than a hostile invasion from a foreign country. (“You look at that, it almost looks like an invasion. . . . I think it could be considered an invasion of our country. We can’t have it.”)

But evidently, Trump still felt he had to do more to show voters that their lives were in grave danger, and to really drive home the point that he and his fellow Republicans were the only thing standing between them and Democrats enacting a new policy wherein for every migrant allowed to stay in the country, three U.S. citizens have to go live in Honduras. So he pulled out the big guns: he deployed some 6,000 active-duty troops to the southern border, which from the get-go was a patently obvious political stunt given that (a) the military couldn’t even make arrests while they were there, and (b) the caravan was hundreds of miles away (and traveling on foot). Obviously, the whole thing failed to stop Democrats from flipping the House. But one would think that even this administration would understand it should see the stunt through a little while longer, so that it wasn’t, like, completely crystal clear that the president of the United States had turned members of the military into pawns in one of his cheap tricks. But: surprise!

The Pentagon is set to begin a drawdown of its 5,800 troops from the Southwest border as early as this week, the Army commander overseeing the mission told POLITICO today—even as the approaching caravan of refugees prompted U.S. customs officers to close a port of entry near Tijuana, Mexico.

All the active-duty troops that President Donald Trump ordered sent to the border before the midterm elections should be home by Christmas, said Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, who is running the mission from San Antonio, Texas.

In other words, the president spent millions in taxpayer dollars on a stunt that failed completely. Despite the withdrawal, Trump insisted on Sunday that the U.S. is basically under siege, tweeting “the U.S. is ill-prepared for this invasion, and will not stand for it,” saying that the caravan “causing crime and big problems in Mexico” and directing the migrants, who we’re sure are checking social media right now to “Go home!”