Sen. Katie Britt denies misusing widely criticized sex trafficking anecdote in Biden’s State of the Union rebuttal

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U.S. Sen. Katie Britt (R-AL) speaks at a press conference on border security at the U.S. 

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Alabama Republican Sen. Katie Britt on Sunday denied the allegation that she misrepresented the experience of a sex-trafficking survivor to attack President Joe Biden‘s border policy.

Since delivering the GOP rebuttal to Biden’s State of the Union address on Thursday, Britt has faced severe criticism. She took even more heat after independent journalist Jonathan Katz first exposed her for recycling a 20-year-old anecdote about a victim of sex trafficking and presenting it as a result of the current administration’s border policy.

Britt argued that in her rebuttal she made clear that the woman had experienced sex trafficking years earlier during her childhood, not under the Biden administration.

“I very clearly said I spoke to a woman who told me about when she was trafficked when she was 12. So I didn’t say a teenager. I didn’t say a young woman — a grown woman, a woman who was trafficked when she was 12,” Britt said on “Fox News Sunday.”

In her rebuttal, Britt references “a woman” who “had been sex trafficked by the cartels starting at the age of 12.”

During the speech, she did not clarify that the crime happened decades ago and that the woman was no longer being sex trafficked.

The victim, Karla Jacinto Romero, experienced sex trafficking from 2004 to 2008 in Mexico. Katz and a chorus of online critics lambasted Britt for presenting Jacinto Romero’s story as if it happened in the U.S. under Biden’s watch.

Britt said Sunday that she was using the story to contrast Biden’s first 100 days with her own first 100 days in office, during which she said she visited the border three times to meet drug cartel victims.

NBC’s Saturday Night Live spoofed Britt’s speech on Saturday, pointing to her misplaced usage of Jacinto Romero’s story: “Rest assured every detail about it is real except the year, where it took place and who was president when it happened,” actress Scarlett Johansson said playing Britt in the parody.

Disclosure: Comcast’s NBCUniversal is the parent of NBC and CNBC.

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