Sen. Katie Britt attempts to clean up her misleading State of the Union response


Alabama GOP Sen. Katie Britt on Sunday responded to allegations that her response to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address was misleading.

The criticism centers on a story Britt told about a victim of human trafficking, which she implied happened during Biden’s tenure.

Britt spoke in her Thursday-night speech about visiting the U.S.-Mexico border in 2023 and speaking to this woman.

Sen. Katie Britt delivers a response to President Joe Biden's State of the Union. (NBC News)

Sen. Katie Britt delivers a response to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union. (NBC News)

“She had been sex-trafficked by the cartels starting at age 12. She told me not just that she was raped every day, but how many times a day she was raped,” Britt said in her response to the State of the Union.

“We wouldn’t be OK with this happening in a Third World country. This is the United States of America, and it is past time, in my opinion, that we start acting like it,” she added. “President Biden’s border crisis is a disgrace.”

Shortly after the address, a viral social media post by journalist Jonathan Katz looked more closely at the story and noted that the trafficking did not happen during Biden’s presidency, or even in the United States; it happened during the administration of President George W. Bush, in Mexico.

On “Fox News Sunday,” Britt did not acknowledge making any mistake or leaving a wrong impression.

She was asked whether she meant to give the impression that the story she told about a victim of human trafficking happened during Biden’s tenure.

“No,” Britt answered, adding later: “I very clearly said I spoke to a woman who told me about when she was trafficked when she was 12, so I didn’t say a teenager. I didn’t say a young woman, a grown woman, a woman when she was trafficked when she was 12.”

She doubled down on her Thursday statement that Biden “didn’t just create this border crisis. He invited it with 94 executive actions in his first 100 days.”

“I very specifically said this is what President Biden did during his first 100 days. Minutes after coming into office he stopped all deportations, he halted construction of the border wall,” she said Sunday. (The Biden administration attempted to institute a 100-day pause on mass deportations after taking office, but that moratorium was later halted by a judge.)

Though Britt did not offer the victim’s name in her speech Thursday, a spokesperson for her office told The Washington Post that she was referring to Karla Jacinto Romero, a trafficking victims’ rights advocate who testified before Congress in 2015 about what happened to her as a girl.

Britt’s office did not respond to a request for comment from NBC News on Saturday.

The White House shot back at the Republican senator, accusing Britt of relying on “debunked lies” to attack Biden.

“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,” White House 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.’”

In her 2015 congressional testimony, Jacinto Romero told lawmakers through an interpreter, “For more than four years of my life from the age of 12 … I fell prey to a professional pimp who, after three months of wooing and me treating me as a princess, propped me up on a corner and forced me to work the streets for his own gain. For years and years, I was coerced, intimidated, threatened, beaten, robbed of my children and emotionally and sexually violated time and time again.”

Jacinto Romero was 22 at the time of her testimony, meaning the experience she described began roughly a decade earlier.

Britt met Jacinto Romero in January 2023 during a trip to the Del Rio sector of the U.S.-Mexico border, where she was accompanied by Fox News contributor Sara Carter, former Mexican politician and victims advocate Rosa María de la Garza Ramírez, and GOP Sens. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi.

On an episode of “The Sara Carter Show” released the same day as the trip, Carter said she introduced Jacinto Romero to the senators, telling listeners, “She talked very vividly and candidly with lawmakers … about what was happening to her, about people buying her.”

Republicans have long criticized Biden’s handling of the border, arguing that the president has been ineffective at stopping the rampant migrant crossings along the southern border. The Biden administration has countered that Congress has been unwilling to step up to the plate since the bipartisan border deal fell apart, and the president is reportedly considering taking executive action to deter migration.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com



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