CNN’s Don Lemon Rips Into Trump Supporter Steve Cortes For Promoting Unverified Claims

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Donald Trump has repeatedly asked Americans to be wary of “fake news” but it seems his supporters are as vulnerable to them — if not more.

Recently, the Washington Examiner did a report in which an American staying close to the Mexico border claimed that she had found a prayer rug. Trump promptly tweeted about the story in an effort to amplify his narrative of painting the southern border as a security threat.

“Border rancher: ‘We’ve found prayer rugs out here. It’s unreal.’–Washington Examiner. People coming across the Southern Border from many countries, some of which would be a big surprise,” Trump tweeted.

Trump has previously claimed that even ISIS militants are crossing the border into the United States — a claim which has been debunked by most media outlets. However, it hasn’t stopped his supporters from repeating the claim. On Friday, Trump supporter Steve Cortes claimed that the “porous” southern border was allowing people from all over the world to enter the United States.

CNN’s Don Lemon attempted to unravel Cortes’s viewpoint, asking whether it was right for him to amplify a claim when the evidence is just not present. Playing the Examiner clip, Lemon noted that the “the rancher says flat out he has no proof,” and questioned Cortes for drawing his own conclusions from the report.

Cortes tried to defend Trump’s viewpoint by arguing that 600 Bangladeshis had been trying to cross over into America through a single station — another claim which has not been backed by evidence.

“What he said is there are prayer rugs, and the way I take that is it is surprising and shocking. There are very few Muslims in Latin America, that people are coming from all over the world and coming across our porous southern border,” said Cortes.

“That’s not just my opinion by the way. The Laredo station of Customs and Border protection tells us over 600 Bangladeshis at that single station — that’s literally the other side of the globe — were caught crossing there. We have no idea how many weren’t caught crossing. What does that tell us? It tells us that the world knows that the place to cross easily into the United States is our southern border because it’s undefended and it’s porous.”

Lemon interrupted Cortes, saying that the claim he was making was simply not true. “Steve, that is not true,” Lemon shot back. “An administration official has told CNN…”

Cortes proceeded to ask Lemon which part of his statement was not true, to which Lemon had the following to say.

“You’re saying there’s no innuendo. What does that mean when you say prayer rugs? No one said, oh, my gosh, I found a crucifix. Oh, my gosh, look, there’s a crucifix at the southern border because that means Catholics or people could be coming over from Spain, right? No one said any of that. And to pretend that there’s not some innuendo, some xenophobic innuendo that they found prayer rugs…”

Cortes then tried to deflect the argument and instead brought up the BuzzFeed article which reported that Donald Trump had directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress. A spokesperson for Special Counsel’s office called the report “not accurate.”

Watch the exchange below.