Image: AP

Cindy McCain apologized on Wednesday for remarks she made about having thwarted what she claimed was a human trafficking attempt at an airport. Her apology comes in response to a statement from Phoenix police refuting her claim.

On Monday, McCain told KTAR News that she’d recently seen a child being trafficked at Phoenix airport. Her words:

It was a woman of a different ethnicity than the child, this little toddler she had, and something didn’t click with me. I tell people, trust your gut. I went over to the police and told them what I thought, and they went over and questioned her. And by God, she was trafficking that kid.

McCain went on to insist in that interview that the woman was “waiting for the guy who bought the child to get off an airplane.”

Alas, this was bullshit. Phoenix Police Sgt. Armando Carbajal told KTAR on Wednesday that after a thorough welfare check, “officers determined there was no evidence of criminal conduct or child endangerment.” Turns out, McCain just called the cops on a woman for seemingly no reason other than her ethnicity appearing to be different from that of the child she was traveling with.

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This also isn’t the first time this has happened at this airport. It’s almost as if “If you see something, say something” is often interpreted in very racist ways! From the Washington Post:

In December 2017, a white Arizona man said he was accused at the same Phoenix airport of trafficking his own 16-year-old daughter, whom he and his wife adopted from China. The man, Brian Smith, told ABC 15 that police approached him at a terminal as soon as he got off the plane and said a flight attendant “had some concerns” about his daughter. Southwest Airlines sent a “heartfelt apology” to the family, adding flight attendants had been trained to flag possible human trafficking.

“I don’t like to accuse anyone of anything,” the girl’s mother, Renee Smith, told ABC 15. “But if Georgianna was a Caucasian child, I don’t believe this would have happened.”

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In response to the police’s findings, McCain, the widow of the late Republican John McCain and member of the Human Trafficking Advisory Council at Arizona State University, said in a statement on Twitter, “I commend the police officers for their diligence. I apologize if anything else I have said on this matter distracts from ‘if you see something, say something.”

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I doubt the moral of this story is “if you see something, say something,” Cindy.