No stranger to controversy for his hardline anti-immigration comments, Trump stoked new fury Wednesday when he made the remark to a group of California Republicans visiting the White House, during a discussion on his planned border wall.
"These aren't people. These are animals, and we're taking them out of the country at a rate that's never happened before", he added.
Answering a reporter's question during a meeting with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg, Trump said his comment a day earlier had clearly been directed at members of the MS-13 gang.
In its story, headlined "Trump Calls Some Unauthorized Immigrants "Animals" in Rant," The Times said that Trump had "lashed out at undocumented immigrants" and warned "in front of news cameras that unsafe people are clamoring to breach the country's borders and branding such people 'animals.'" It wasn't until the third and fourth paragraph of the story that The Times added context to Trump's remarks.
"If the media and liberals want to defend MS-13, they're more than welcome to", White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters.
California Gov. Brown Signs Law to Protect Immigrants
Trump's comments evoked "an ugly history of dehumanization". "So I'm actually surprised that you're asking this question 'cause most people got it right", he said.
News outlets such as the Associated Press and the New York Times among others reported President's Trump's comments as referring to "undocumented" or "unauthorized" immigrants in headlines and not specifically to gangs.
"I'm always pressing him to do more about the gangs and MS-13 on Long Island, and it's obviously an issue that's important to him, and a priority for the president", King said.
Wiener's office said some attorneys have been revealing the immigration status of victims or witnesses who come forward to participate in court cases, even when it's not relevant, creating a "chilling effect" that can prevent others from coming forward.
During the session, Trump thanked the officials, saying they had "bravely resisted California's deadly and unconstitutional sanctuary state laws". Trump was speaking at a roundtable with local California officials when he responded to a comment that referenced MS-13. Trump's initial remarks were met with widespread condemnation on social media by Democratic lawmakers and activists who believed he was describing all immigrants crossing the southern border. It took an animal to beat a woman they were sex-trafficking with a bat 28 times indenting part of her body. "And it took an animal to kidnap and rape a 13-year-old Houston girl".