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On Saturday, President Trump held a fiery rally in an airport hanger Melbourne, Florida in front of thousands of his supporters. The rally was reminiscent of the boisterous crowds who gathered at Trump rallies during the 2016 presidential campaign. Trump covered many subjects, but as usual, one confusing comment in particular made headlines and had the collective world asking questions.
As Trump was speaking about his controversial views regarding thousands of Syrian refugees migrating to Europe and America, Trump made a vague and somewhat confusing remark about Sweden. Trump said, "You look at what's happening in Germany, you look at what happened last night in Sweden. Sweden! They took in large numbers. They're having problems like they never thought possible."
Questions, anger, and mockery immediately arose on Twitter as those critical of President Trump claimed it was yet another example of Trump and his administration fabricating terrorist attacks to drive home their point of the danger of allowing Syrian refugees into the country. Some referred back to White House counselor Kellyanne Conway's comments regarding a 'Bowling Green massacre' that...well...never happened.
Those in the political world commented too. Former Swedish prime minister and foreign minister Carl Bildt wrote on Twitter, “Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound."
Although Trump did not say outright that a terrorist attack had occurred in Sweden, he did say it in the same breath as his references to attacks that have occurred in placed like Germany, Nice, and Paris. This led many to assert that Trump did in fact believe or wanted the crowd to believe that something had occurred in Sweden.
On Sunday, Trump took to Twitter to clarify his remarks. Trump wrote, "My statement as to what’s happening in Sweden was in reference to a story that was broadcast on @FoxNews concerning immigrants & Sweden.” During that Fox News segment on Tucker Carlson Tonight, Tucker interviewed a documentary film maker named Ami Horowitz who traveled to Syria to create documentary in which he highlights how 160,000 Syrian refugees have (as he claims) caused a massive wave of crimes and violence. As of yet, there is no statistical data to back up these claims.
Trump may have expressed his clarification of his comment about Sweden, but there are still extreme factual discrepancies with other comments he made during this same speech. Immediately following his comment about Sweden which caused so much controversy, Trump said, "We've allowed thousands and thousands of people into our country, and there was no way to vett those people. There was no documentation. There was no nothing."
Whether or not our current procedure for processing refugees will keep out every single bad person, is definitely debatable. That being said, President Trump's claim that there was "no vetting" and "no documentation" of the refugees who have already come to America is categorically and irrefutably false. The United States, in comparison to other countries who have accepted refugees, does have an extremely stringent and thorough procedure for vetting and processing those seeking asylum. That process can take up to two years.
Perhaps the most ironic thing about this story is that Trump chose not to clarify his false statements about the vetting and documentation that takes place when the United States processes refugees. He instead opted to clarify to his critics and the media (the same media and critics he claims to not answer to) a vague comment he made about Sweden. This was perhaps (to him) a welcome distraction for his critics from the more blatant factual untruths spoken by Trump during Saturday's event.