Katie Britt defends use of graphic sex-trafficking story to attack President Biden


Sen. Katie Boyd Britt (R-Ala.), who delivered the Republican rebuttal to President Biden’s State of the Union address, pushed back against criticisms that she falsely linked a harrowing account of a young woman’s sex trafficking to Biden’s immigration policies, even though the abuse happened nearly 20 years ago and in Mexico.

The host of “Fox News Sunday,” Shannon Bream, asked Britt if she meant to “give the impression that this horrible story happened on President Biden’s watch.”

Britt replied “no” before defensively explaining that she was speaking about the executive actions on the border that Biden took in his first 100 days as president.

Britt said she spoke to Border Patrol officers and “victims of drug cartels” during a trip to the border when she was a new senator. She said that was why she decided it would be important to elevate the story of a human trafficking victim, claiming without evidence that trafficking has “gone up” under the Biden administration.

“This is a story of what is happening now at an astronomical rate, and we have to bring attention to it,” Britt said.

As her communications director told The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler, the anecdote was about Karla Jacinto Romero, who has testified before Congress about being forced to work in Mexican brothels from 2004 to 2008.

Fact Checker: Katie Britt’s false linkage of a sex-trafficking case to Joe Biden

In her rebuttal on Thursday night, Britt opened by blaming Biden for the surge of migrants at the border, saying: “Biden didn’t just create this border crisis. He invited it with 94 executive actions in his first 100 days.” She then spoke about her meeting with the woman when she first took office — in 2023 — and graphically described the assaults against her.

We wouldn’t be okay with this happening in a Third World country,” she said Thursday. “This is the United States of America, and it is past time, in my opinion, that we start acting like it.”

When asked again Sunday if she meant to link the woman’s assault to Biden, Britt said she “very clearly said I spoke to a woman who told me about when she was trafficked.” However, her rebuttal speech gave no indication of when the woman had been rescued.

“She is a victim’s rights advocate who is telling this is what drug cartels are doing. This is how they’re profiting off of women. And it is disgusting,” Britt said Sunday.

As Romero said in testimony nine years ago, her mother threw her out of her house at age 12 and she “fell prey to a professional pimp.”

She says she then spent four years in brothels before a regular client helped her escape when she was 16 years old. There is no indication in her story that drug cartels were involved, though Britt said that in the State of the Union response and has made a similar claim on at least one other occasion.

Romero was never trafficked to the United States; instead, she said many men who paid to have sex with her were “foreigners visiting my city looking to have sexual interactions with minors like me.”

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was asked Sunday about Britt’s remarks during an appearance on ABC News’s “This Week.”

“I’ll leave it to her to explain the falsehoods, but I think it illustrates the bigger issue,” Buttigieg said. “She’s a United States senator, and the United States Senate right now could be acting to help secure the southern border.”

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