Trump wanted to "maim" and "tear gas" migrants at US-Mexico border, former DHS official claims

"He wanted to maim them, and tear gas them and shoot them," Miles Taylor says. "And I'm not even being hyperbolic"

Published August 27, 2020 11:37PM (EDT)

Donald Trump | US-Mexico Border Wall (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Donald Trump | US-Mexico Border Wall (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Chief of Staff Miles Taylor claimed in a podcast earlier this week that President Donald Trump told administration officials he wanted to "maim" and "shoot" migrants at the southern border.

Taylor, who served as chief of staff to former DHS Kirstjen Nielsen before departing the agency with her in April 2019, made the remarks Monday on an episode of "The New Abnormal" podcast from The Daily Beast.

Taylor said he could not get through a meeting without Trump "doing 20 tangents, becoming irascible, turning red in the face, demanding a diet Coke, spewing spit."

"Literally out of goddamn nowhere, he'd be like, 'You know who's just my favorite guy? The MyPillow guy. Do any of you have those pillows?'" Taylor said, referencing his first in-person interaction with the president, at a meeting about the construction of a wall on the southern border with Mexico.

"Donald Trump hates it when people take notes," Taylor recalled, reasoning it had something to do with the content of those meetings.

"He says, 'We got to do this, this, this and this,' all of which are probably impossible, illegal unethical," Taylor said, echoing allegations from a number of former senior staffers such as former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former National Security Adviser John Bolton. 

As he was writing down Trump's ideas while the president spoke, Taylor said, "He looks over me and he goes, 'You fu*king taking notes?'"

"I've actually seen him do that so many times in meetings," Taylor said. "'Why the hell are you taking notes?'"

When discussing border security, Taylor said, Trump would concoct "sickening" schemes "to pierce the flesh" of migrants at the southern border, "maim" and gas them.

"He wanted to maim them, and tear gas them and shoot them," Taylor said. "And I'm not even being hyperbolic."

On one occasion, he said, Trump asked for steel bollards "so sharp that I want them to pierce human flesh if they climb it."

"Why don't we just shoot them?" Taylor said the president asked, referencing migrants approaching the border in "caravans" in 2018.

"This was a man with no humanity whatsoever," Taylor said.

Around the time Taylor joined Google in a policy role in Sept. 2019, The New York Times and The Washington Post published stories citing administration officials with details similar to his descriptions to The Daily Beast.

The Washington Post reported that Trump wanted U.S. border forces armed with bayonets to block people from crossing from Mexico and even suggested fortifying a border wall with a water-filled trench, or a moat, which could be stocked with snakes or alligators.

The New York Times had first reported Trump's proposal for a moat filled with dangerous reptiles, which the president allegedly wanted the wall "electrified" with "spikes on top that could piece human flesh." Trump also reportedly suggested that soldiers shoot migrants in the legs to slow them down.

A lifelong Republican, Taylor has made a series of high-profile media appearances recently on the heels of an anti-Trump opinion piece, which gained traction after its Aug. 17 publication in the Washington Post. Taylor has said that Trump claimed "magical authorities" beyond the law and has announced the formation of a group comprising Trump administration officials — including at least two current senior officials — dedicated to defeating Trump in November.

"We'll have a broad group of Republicans focused on denying Trump a second term, and most importantly, planning for a post-Trump GOP and America," he told NBC News on Tuesday.

Taylor, as DHS chief of staff, played a not insignificant role in implementing the child separation policy at the Mexican border. In one email sent to Nielsen ahead of the rollout, Taylor coined it "the Protecting Children Narrative."

Taylor's hiring at Google was controversial at the time, and led to several employees' departure from the company. One of those employees, Laurence Berland, published an opinion piece in BuzzFeed News on the heels of Taylor's Aug. 17 op-ed.

"Like he did in his role at DHS, Taylor is again crafting a ​narrative​, one in which he is another of Trump's victims, but he and others who played a part in the atrocities of the Trump administration cannot be absolved of their past simply by supporting Biden's bid for the presidency," Berland wrote. "If they truly are asking for our forgiveness, they will first need to admit that what they did was wrong, and say those words that Trump himself surely never will: 'I'm sorry.'"

By Roger Sollenberger

Roger Sollenberger was a staff writer at Salon (2020-21). Follow him on Twitter @SollenbergerRC.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Border Wall Dhs Donald Trump Immigration Kirstjen Nielsen Mexico Miles Taylor Mypillow Politics Republicans