An aide to Donald Trump sought Sunday to change the topic from Trump's problematic statements about woman by asserting "uncontrolled migration" leads to increased risk of female genital mutilation in the United States.
Stephen Miller, a senior adviser to Trump's presidential campaign and a former top aide to Sen. Jeff Sessions, claimed on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday morning that immigration has put 500,000 U.S. girls at risk of genital mutilation.
"You want to talk about women's issues? Here's something we should be talking about. It is a fact: As a result of uncontrolled migration into this country — you can look this up, it's a statistic from Equality Now — half a million U.S. girls in this country are at risk of female genital mutilation," Miller said.
Neera Tanden, the president of the Center for American Progress, immediately shot back at Miller, saying his claim is another example of Trump and his supporters constantly saying "something outrageous."
"I'm not saying something outrageous. You don't think that statistic is correct?" Miller responded, which lead to more back-and-forth bantering on the panel.
The estimate Miller cited was issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January. The study said 513,000 girls and women in the U.S. could be considered at-risk for genital mutilation because either they or a parent were born in a country where it is a tradition. Equality Now is an international human organization that works to end violence and discrimination against girls and women.
The report did not connect the risk the risk to immigration policy, as Miller attempted to. He did not explain how changes in immigraiton policy, including Trump's proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States, would affect the risk. The woman at risk are already in the United States.
The conversation about female genital mutilation was sparked when host Jake Tapper asked Miller if Trump's attack on rival Ted Cruz's wife was "presidential."
"We get wrong what we're mad about in America." Miller said. "We don't get mad when Americans are murdered by illegal immigrants. We don't get mad when people have their jobs taken by cheaper foreign workers on visa programs. We don't get mad when entire cities are crushed by our trade policies that send jobs overseas."
"I understand why you want to change the subject," Tapper interrupted, citing Trump's Twitter attack on Cruz's wife instead of using Twitter to discuss immigration.
"The political class in D.C. works itself up into a feigned indignation over things that don't really affect the lives of people," Miller responded back.
"There's nothing feigned here," former RNC Communications Director Doug Heye immediately said, adding that Miller was criticized last week for refusing to condemn Trump's tweets that contain "sexism."
"You want to get into an argument? Then we'll get into an argument." Miller yelled back. "He just accused me of standing up for sexism, and that is absolutely inappropriate."
"I said in that interview to be debating retweets [attacking Cruz's wife] when it is a fact you have Americans dying every single day as a result of immigration policies." Miller continued. "Americans all over this country see their communities destroyed by uncontrolled migration."
From there, the conversation moved to female genital mutation.