Sen. Katie Britt accused of misleading statement in State of the Union response

Washington — Sen. Katie Britt, an Alabama Republican, has faced criticism in recent days for allegedly misleading comments made during her rebuttal to President Biden’s State of the Union address last week, where she appeared to suggest that a horrific sex trafficking story had occurred during President Biden’s time in office. 

Britt shared the story of a woman she spoke with at the southern border, who Britt said was sex-trafficked by the cartels, recalling in graphic detail the story of the abuse of the then-12-year-old. 

“We wouldn’t be OK with this happening in a third-world country,” Britt said at the conclusion of the story. “This is the United States of America and it is past time, in my opinion, that we start acting like it. President Biden’s border policies are a disgrace.”

An independent journalist, Jonathan M Katz, first reported in a viral video that the story Britt recalled of the trafficking had actually occurred in Mexico during George W. Bush’s presidency. Britt appeared to be telling the story of Karla Jacinto Romero, who has testified before Congress about being the victim of sex trafficking by Mexican cartels when she was 12. Britt and two other senators participated in a roundtable discussion with Jacinto and others during a visit to the southern border last year. 

Sen. Katie Britt, of Alabama, delivering the Republican response to President Biden’s State of the Union response on the night of March 7, 2024.

CBS News

Britt responded to the accusations on “Fox News Sunday,” defending her remarks and implying that she didn’t mean to suggest that the incident happened under the Biden administration, while saying that she had been clear during the remarks that the woman in her story was much younger when the incident occurred.

The Alabama Republican explained that with the story, she was contrasting the first 100 days of her time in the Senate with Mr. Biden’s time in the White House, illustrating how she visited the border and heard victims’ stories. She said the story is an example of what’s happening at an “astronomical rate” under the Biden administration’s handling of the border. 

White House spokesman Andrew Bates in a statement called Britt’s remarks “debunked lies,” saying the senator “should stop choosing human smugglers and fentanyl traffickers over our national security and the Border Patrol Union” by joining fellow Republicans in the Senate to oppose a bipartisan agreement to enhance border security. 

“Like President Biden said in his State of the Union, ‘We have a simple choice: We can fight about fixing the border or we can fix it,'” Bates said. 

Britt’s Thursday remarks were lampooned Saturday night on “Saturday Night Live,” with Scarlett Johansson parodying Britt.   

Britt, 42, is the youngest Republican woman ever elected to the Senate and the first woman to serve in the Senate from Alabama.

Gabrielle Ake contributed reporting. 

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