IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Trump admits there's no proof to his claims about the migrant caravan

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: U.S. President Trump talks to reporters during bill signing ceremony at the White House in Washington
U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters about the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey during a bill signing ceremony at the White House in Washington on Oct. 23, 2018.Leah Millis / Reuters

WASHINGTON — Asked yesterday about his recent tweet that “criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in” the migrant caravan in southern Mexico, President Donald Trump responded that the U.S. Border Patrol has apprehended people from the Middle East before.

“I spoke with Border Patrol [Tuesday] morning, and I spoke to them last evening, and I spoke to them the day before. I speak to them all the time. And they say — and you know this as well as anybody — over the course of the year, over the course of a number of years, they've intercepted many people from the Middle East," he said. "They've intercepted ISIS. They've intercepted all sorts of people. They've intercepted good ones and bad ones.”

But when the reporter questioned Trump on whether he has proof that Middle Easterners are in the caravan right now, the president replied, “Well, they could very well be.”

When the reporter pressed on proof once again, Trump said, “There's no proof of anything. There's no proof of anything. But they could very well be.”

It’s maybe the quintessential line of the Trump presidency — on the caravan, on his claim that Obama wiretapped him, on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election: “There’s no proof of anything. But it/they/there could very well be.”

And here’s the Washington Post on how Trump’s White House tries to turn falsehoods and false promises into reality: “The great election-eve middle-class tax cut began not as a factual proposal, but as a false promise. When President Trump abruptly told reporters over the weekend that middle-income Americans would receive a 10 percent tax cut before the midterm elections, neither officials on Capitol Hill nor in his administration knew anything about such a tax cut. The White House released no substantive information. And although cutting taxes requires legislation, Congress is not scheduled to be back in session until after the Nov. 6 elections.”

“Yet Washington’s bureaucratic machinery whirred into action nonetheless — working to produce a policy that could be seen as supporting Trump’s whim.”

Trump on the Saudis' killing of Khashoggi: 'It was carried out poorly. And the cover-up was one of the worst in the history of cover-ups'

In the same meeting with reporters, Trump said this about the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi:

Q: Mr. President, why do you think something like this could have happened? Do you think that there was a failure at the leadership on the world stage, that Saudi Arabia wasn’t concerned about the ramifications?

TRUMP: They had a very bad original concept. It was carried out poorly. And the cover-up was one of the worst in the history of cover-ups. Very simple. Bad deal. Should have never been thought of. Somebody really messed up. And they had the worst cover-up ever. And where it should have stopped is at the deal standpoint, where they thought about it. Because whoever thought of that idea I think is in big trouble, and they should be in big trouble. Okay?

Report: FBI agents gave 'Hamilton' tickets to Gillum

The Tampa Bay Times from yesterday: “Undercover FBI agents paid for Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum's hotel room and his ticket to the Broadway musical Hamilton during a 2016 trip to New York City, according to a bombshell trove of records that raises new questions two weeks before the Nov. 6 election for Florida governor… Gillum's campaign has maintained — and continued to do so Tuesday after the records were released — that Gillum's brother, Marcus, handed him the ticket the night of the show. But text messages at the time of the trip show Gillum was told the tickets came from ‘Mike Miller,’ an FBI agent looking into city corruption who was posing as a developer. ‘Mike Miller and the crew have tickets for us for Hamilton tonight at 8 p.m.,’ Corey texted Gillum on Aug. 10, 2016. ‘Awesome news about Hamilton,’ Gillum replied, according to the records.”

On “MTP Daily” yesterday, Gillum responded to the news. “I always knew that if we were able to connect in New York, we would go see and see ‘Hamilton.’ When I got to the theater, my brother handed me the tickets. The idea I accepted a gift never came to me.”

Abrams, Kemp clash in Georgia gubernatorial debate

“In their first debate, Georgia Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp accused Democrat Stacey Abrams on Tuesday of encouraging undocumented immigrants to vote illegally, while Abrams charged her rival with mass purging voters, many of whom are African-Americans,” NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald writes.

“Abrams also responded to a new revelation that, as a college freshman in 1992, she participated in a protest burning of the state's old flag, which prominently featured the Confederate Battle Flag after a 1956 redesign. The governor at the time was pushing to eliminate the flag, Abrams noted, and Kemp himself later voted to change it. ‘I'm a very proud Georgian,’ she said, explaining that she was ‘deeply disturbed by the racial divisiveness’ of the Confederate-themed flag.”

Democrats seize on McConnell's comments on Social Security and Medicare

NBC’s Heidi Przybyla gets her hands on a new TV ad campaign from the Democratic group Priorities USA Action, which seizes on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s recent comments on Social Security and Medicare. “The Republicans just admitted it,” the ad says. “They’re going to make you pay for their massive tax giveaway to big corporations and the wealthy — after the election.”

But McConnell’s comments on Social Security and Medicare were in the context of him talking about bipartisan ways to achieve changes to those entitlement programs. In his interview with Bloomberg News, “McConnell said it would be ‘very difficult to do entitlement reform, and we’re talking about Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid,’ with one party in charge of Congress and the White House.”

“‘I think it’s pretty safe to say that entitlement changes, which is the real driver of the debt by any objective standard, may well be difficult if not impossible to achieve when you have unified government,’ McConnell said.”

Trump travels to Wisconsin

Trump holds a rally in Mosinee, Wisconsin, at 7:30 p.m. ET. He’ll be campaigning for GOP Gov. Scott Walker (who’s facing his toughest bid for re-election yet) and Senate nominee Leah Vukmir (who trails Dem Sen. Tammy Baldwin in the polling), per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Internal Hawley poll has him ahead in MO-SEN race

“Republican Josh Hawley led incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill by 7 points in the closely watched Missouri Senate race, according to a fresh poll conducted for the challenger’s campaign,” the Washington Examiner writes. “Hawley, the Missouri attorney general, topped McCaskill, the state’s two-term senator, 49 percent to 42 percent, with 5 percent undecided and a collection of third party candidates garnering 4 percent combined.”

Join Chuck in Dallas!

The “MTP Daily” roadshow hits the Lone Star State, where Chuck Todd will do his MSNBC show from Dallas at Katy Trail Ice House (3127 Routh St) beginning at 5:00 p.m. ET/4:00 p.m. CT.