Donald Trump

Analysis: Why Trump Was Forced to Back Down on Family Separation Policy

The president denies that he was forced to back down

President Donald Trump's sudden scramble to distance himself from his own “zero tolerance” family-separation policy shows there is a point around the nexus of political sensitivity and shame where he will change his own behavior.

The president denies that he was forced to back down, but make no mistake: Trump was pushed into abandoning his policy of separating children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border, according to NBC News analysis. He created it, defended it in dishonest terms and then suspended it under pressure.

There is no evidence he believes the policy was wrong — when he tweeted about the need to have compassion, he put “heart” in quotation marks — but it was clearly causing pain for him and his allies. When he pointed to reasons for eliminating the policy, he zeroed in on appearances: "I didn't like the sight or the feeling of families being separated.”

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