President Donald Trump on Tuesday defended his unsubstantiated assertion that “unknown Middle Easterners” are traveling in a migrant caravan traveling north to the United States from Central America, but admitted “there’s no proof of anything.”
“They could very well be,” Trump reiterated during a bill signing in the Oval Office, referring to Middle Eastern individuals embedded in the caravan. “I have very good information.”
However, pressed for the proof of Middle Eastern individuals in the caravan by CNN’s Jim Acosta, Trump said “there’s no proof of anything.”
“There’s no proof of anything but they could very well be,” Trump said.
On Monday, Trump tweeted “criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed” into the migrant caravan moving toward the United States. He called this a “national emergy” (sic).
However, there have been no reports, in the press or publicly from intelligence agencies, to suggest there are “Middle Easterners” embedded in the caravan he’s referring to.
Trump added Tuesday that “there’s a very good chance” of Middle Eastern individuals being in the caravan.
“I also think that over a course of a period of time you (will) have (Middle Eastern individuals in the caravan), or they don’t necessarily have to be in that group. But certainly, you have a lot of people coming up through the southern border from the Middle East and other places that are not appropriate for our country,” he said.
“They don’t necessarily have to be in that group,” Trump also said Tuesday. “But certainly you have people coming up through the southern border, from the Middle East and other places that are not appropriate for our country. And I’m not letting them in.”
Vice President Mike Pence also said that the Honduran President Juan Hernandez told him over a phone call today that the migrant caravan was financed by Venezuela and organized by leftist groups.
“At the President’s direction I spoke with President Hernandez of Honduras. He told me that the caravan that is now making its way through Mexico headed for the southern border was organized by leftist organizations and financed by Venezuela,” Pence said.
“And the Democrats maybe?” Trump joked.
Pence also declined to offer specific proof that Middle Eastern individuals are in the caravan, instead citing a statistic of how many suspected terrorists are prevented from coming into the country daily.
“The United States of America intervenes and prevents 10 terrorists or 10 suspected terrorists from coming into our country every day. So, it is inconceivable that there would not be individuals from the Middle East as part of this growing caravan,” Pence said.
Trump said he does not believe he is stoking fear for political gain by addressing the caravan.
“No, not at all,” he said, “I’m a very non-political person. And that’s why I got elected President.”
CNN’s Matt Hoye contributed to this report.