President Donald Trump broke an unusually long silence on Twitter Sunday to defend an inaccurate statement he made during a rally Saturday that has quickly been seized upon by his critics.
While speaking in Melbourne, Florida, on Saturday, Trump made the case for tighter immigration laws and greater scrutiny of refugees from the Middle East by referring to “what’s happening last night in Sweden.”
“Who would believe this? Sweden, they took in large numbers, they’re having problems like they never thought possible,” Trump continued.
The only problem was, at many were quick to point out, there were no reported incidents of terrorism or major crime in Sweden on Friday, leading the hashtag #SwedishIncident to trend on social media as Trump’s critics lampooned the gaffe and compared it to his adviser Kellyanne Conway’s mention of a similarly nonexistent terrorist attack in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
However, on Sunday, Trump tweeted that he was referring to a news broadcast on Fox News that aired Friday night detailing the high number of refugees who had entered Sweden and a corresponding crime wave on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
The report, which featured an interview with independent filmmaker and journalist Ami Horowitz, claimed there has been a surge in gun violence and rape since Sweden began accepting refugees.
Several news outlets had speculated that Trump had in fact been referring to the Fox News report, as the president reportedly watches cable news regularly. This is not the first time Trump’s tweets have borne a striking similarity to Fox News’s coverage, as he seemingly echoed the network’s criticism of Chelsea Manning, its coverage of flag burning and crime in Chicago.
Whether or not Sweden is actually the “rape capital of the world,” as one Breitbart article has called it, is disputed. While Sweden’s statistics report 69 cases out of every 100,000 people, which puts it at one of the highest rates in the world, activists argue that Sweden’s broad definition of rape as compared to other countries skews the results.
Sweden’s government has also not released any statistics identifying the country of origin for perpetrators of rape since 2001. However, in that 2001 study, it was found that foreign-born residents did engage in higher rates of violent crime.