Photo: "Axios on HBO"
Pete Buttigieg told "Axios on HBO" that he believes President Trump doesn't care about addressing the border crisis, saying he "wouldn't put it past him to allow it to become worse in order to have it be a more divisive issue, so that he could benefit politically."
Why it matters: Trump has campaigned on closing the border and reducing migration, but border crossings are at their highest level in a decade.
"Axios on HBO": "Do you acknowledge that a hundred thousand migrants crossing the southern border for the second month in a row represents a crisis?"
Pete Buttigieg: "It certainly represents a crisis of largely this administration's making."
"Axios on HBO": "Is President Trump right to ask for more money for barriers and to toughen the vetting of people claiming asylum?"
Pete Buttigieg: "Look, it's worth having a conversation about border security in the context of comprehensive immigration reform, but President Trump is wrong in his approach on this issue, at every point. From the near-term part, which is horrible policies like family separation and also kind of thoughtlessly using U.S. troops as props on the border, to the big picture, which is that this would not be such a problem, if we had stability in Central American countries. And it turns out that immigration is more useful to this president as a crisis unsolved than it would be as an achievement if he actually fixed it. We could fix it. I mean there's enough of a consensus among the American people and even in Washington about the terms of bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform and yet they still can't deliver because the president needs this to be a problem for his domestic political purposes."
"Axios on HBO": "So you're saying the president is using the border crisis to get re-elected."
Pete Buttigieg: "The president needs this crisis to get worse, even though it
makes a liar out of him. I don't think he's worried about that. He's worried about the ability to —"
"Axios on HBO": "You're not saying he's literally making it worse."
Pete Buttigieg: "I don't think he cares if it gets better, but he certainly doesn't benefit from comprehensively fixing the problem. And I wouldn't put it past him to allow it to become worse in order to have it be a more divisive issue, so that he could benefit politically."
Go deeper: Mayor Pete as commander-in-chief