WASHINGTON — The White House targeted two of President Donald Trump's potential 2020 Democratic rivals over immigration in nearly matching tweets from an official account Monday.
The White House Twitter account — @WhiteHouse — falsely accused Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., of "supporting the animals of MS-13," a violent gang, in one tweet. In another, the White House claimed Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., was "supporting criminals moving weapons, drugs, and victims across our nation’s borders."
Harris fired back, accusing the Trump administration of "ripping babies from their mothers."
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Several prominent Democrats, including Warren and fellow potential presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, have called for the abolition of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency in response to the Trump administration's detention policy with regard to undocumented immigrants. Trump signed an executive order this month aimed at stopping his administration's policy of separating undocumented children from their parents.
Democratic activists — and some of their political leaders — have said ICE should be disbanded.
"The president's deeply immoral actions have made it obvious we need to rebuild our immigration system from top to bottom, starting by replacing ICE with something that reflects our morality and that works," Warren said Saturday at a rally in Boston.
Harris has taken a slightly more measured approach to addressing liberal frustration with an agency at the center of the debate over detentions.
"I think there’s no question we’ve got to critically re-examine ICE and its role and the way that it is being administered and the work it is doing," Harris told MSNBC's Kasie Hunt last month. "We need to probably think about starting from scratch."
It's not unusual for Trump or his White House to level attacks at political foes.
The president has also accused House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., of supporting MS-13 because she took issue with his use of the word "animals" to describe certain undocumented immigrants.
Neither Harris nor Pelosi support the gang, whose members have been involved in drug-trafficking, torture, murder and other criminal activities.
But the attention the White House is giving Harris and Warren presents a new front in Trump's ongoing re-election campaign, which has featured a steady diet of political rallies in recent weeks and now includes a confrontation with two senators seen as early front-runners for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.