A top aide to President Trump said on Friday she misspoke when she cited a 2011 “massacre” in Kentucky that never happened.
A day earlier, during an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, Kellyanne Conway defended Trump’s ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority nations by saying that former president Obama instituted a similar policy for Iraqi refugees in 2011.
“President Obama had a six-month ban on the Iraqi refugee program after two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized, and they were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre,” Conway said. “Most people don’t know that because it didn’t get covered.”
It didn’t happen.
Conway tweeted on Friday morning that she meant to say “Bowling Green terrorists” during the interview.
— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) 3 février 2017
Her description of the 2011 Obama administration policy as a ban was also a mischaracterization, which she didn’t correct.
Obama never banned Iraqi refugees or other Iraqi travelers from coming to the US. His administration did slow down the processing for Iraqis seeking special immigrant visas, which are given to translators and interpreters who worked with the US in that country.
The slowdown was prompted by the May 2011 arrest of two men in Kentucky charged with plotting to send weapons and money to al-Qaida operatives abroad. Waad Ramadan Alwan and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, were mistakenly admitted to the US as Iraqi refugees in 2009 and resettled in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Alwan and Hammadi are in prison after pleading guilty. They were never accused of plotting to launch attacks inside the US.
Conway later returned to the topic in response to a tweet from Hillary Clinton’s daughter Chelsea. “Very grateful no one seriously hurt in the Louvre attack … or the (completely fake) Bowling Green Massacre,” Clinton wrote. “Please don’t make up attacks.
“You can’t ‘invent’ quality candidates either,” Conway replied. “I misspoke; you lost the election.”
According to state department data, 9,388 Iraqi refugees were admitted to the US during the 2011 budget year. The data also shows that Iraqi refugees were admitted every month during the 2011 calendar year.
In addition, more than 7,800 Iraqis were allowed into the US on non-immigrant visas, including tourists, during the 2011 budget year, government data show.