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Fact check: Trump didn’t say government was fighting ‘ancient sex trafficking ring’

Update July 28, 2020: Added another public remark from Trump at the signing ceremony of the anti-human trafficking legislation after paragraph seven.

Fact check by Reuters. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

Posts circulating on social media claim US President Donald Trump has said his government is fighting “an ancient sex trafficking ring”. The messages further claim that the media chose not to cover his remarks, noting that “not a single journalist” has asked for more information. There is, however, no evidence that Trump ever said this.

Examples of complaints are visible here , here and here .

The claim likely hints at a set of conspiracy theories from QAnon, a fringe group popular among some Trump supporters that claims “deep state” traitors are plotting against the president ( here ). QAnon theories often allude to a “secret campaign” led by Trump against “a child sex trafficking ring run by pedophiles and satanic cannibals,” according to Time. here ).

The posts come after Twitter permanently suspended accounts that violate its policies while tweeting about QAnon ( here ).

PUBLIC REMARKS

In 2019, while speaking with law enforcement officials at the White House about the need to fund his promised wall on the US-Mexico border, Trump spoke about rising rates of human trafficking. . At the February 11, 2019 meeting, Trump said, “People think it’s an old art. There are more human smugglers right now, traffickers as they call them, than at any time in the history of our world because of the internet, unfortunately. ( heresee mark 3:52).

A transcript of the event at the White House shows that only one reporter asked about a possible government shutdown ( here ), although the C-SPAN video appears to show the session ending without any questions ( here).

In the same speech, Trump touched on alleged offenses committed by migrants, alluding to data compiled by the Department of Homeland Security. These are the remarks most similar to those in social posts that Reuters could find. However, at no time did Trump refer to a “former sex trafficking ring”.

Trump made similar remarks about a month earlier during a signing ceremony for anti-human trafficking legislation (here). “You would think [human trafficking] was an ancient form of crime. It’s not. It’s a very modern form,” Trump said. He then answered questions from the press about the government shutdown and the declaration of a national emergency.

On January 31, 2020, Trump delivered remarks at the White House Summit on Human Trafficking on the 20th anniversary of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act ( here ).

In a few instances, Trump specifically alluded to sex trafficking and said his administration had shut down the main online sex trafficking site, signed into law bills to combat sex trafficking, authorized $430 million to combat sex trafficking. sex and labor trafficking and worked internationally to combat child sexual abuse. ( here ).

There were no questions at the end of this speech. The event was widely covered by the national media ( here , here ).

Bloomberg reported that some victims’ advocacy groups “criticized the president’s record on the issue and refused to attend a ceremony at the White House.” ( here )

GHISLAINE MAXWELL

On July 21, 2020, Trump said he wished alleged sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell well, noting that he had met her several times in the past, but didn’t have much else. to say about the case involving the late financier Jeffrey Epstein.

Trump, speaking at his first coronavirus briefing in weeks, was asked if he thought Maxwell would ‘turn on powerful men’ after his arrest, given that she was the longtime associate of Epstein and that she was his alleged co-conspirator.

“I just wish him luck, frankly,” Trump said. “I’ve met her many times over the years – especially since I lived in Palm Beach, and I guess they lived in Palm Beach – but I wish her luck no matter what.”

Maxwell, 58, has denied charges of luring underage girls for Epstein to sexually abuse and pleaded not guilty. A U.S. District Court judge in Manhattan denied bail during a hearing in July, saying the wealthy socialite posed a flight risk ( here ).

SOCIAL MEDIA

No remarks related to “a former sex trafficking ring” appear on Trump’s Twitter timeline, nor do search results for posts with similar wording. No media reported that Trump tweeted this.

According to Politwoops, a ProPublica project that archives deleted tweets from politicians, there are no deleted tweets mentioning “a former sex trafficking ring” from Trump’s page ( here ).

VERDICT

Fake. There is no evidence that Trump said the government was fighting “an ancient sex trafficking ring.”

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Learn more about our social media post verification work here .

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