In a statement issued on Thursday after the inspector general’s report, Rod J. Rosenstein, the former deputy attorney general involved in the policy, expressed deep regret about the zero tolerance policy and the part he played in its implementation.
“Since leaving the department, I have often asked myself what we should have done differently, and no issue has dominated my thinking more than the zero tolerance immigration policy,” he said. “It was a failed policy that never should have been proposed or implemented. I wish we all had done better.”
Notes obtained by The New York Times of two meetings — one between federal prosecutors along the southwestern border and Mr. Sessions, and another with Mr. Rosenstein — also indicate that law enforcement officials were pushing the separation policy in response to pressure from the president.
During a May 11, 2018, meeting with Mr. Sessions, the attorney general told the prosecutors, “we need to take away children,” according to the notes. Moments later, he described Mr. Trump as “very intense, very focused” on the issue, according to one person taking notes at the meeting.
Another person who attended the same meeting wrote about the same part of the conversation involving Mr. Trump: “INTENSE: prosecute everyone.”