By Kate Feldman

In an attempt to retaliate against Democrats, President Trump and White House officials reportedly plotted to release detained immigrants into sanctuary cities.

The Trump administration tried at least twice in the past six months to convince immigration authorities to target various Democratic-led cities, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco, where they expected the immigrants would cause problems, according to emails obtained by the Washington Post and several whistleblowers from the Department of Homeland Security.

"The extent of this administration's cynicism and cruelty cannot be overstated," Pelosi spokeswoman Ashley Etienne told the paper. "Using human beings _ including little children _ as pawns in their warped game to perpetuate fear and demonize immigrants is despicable."

Senior Trump adviser Stephen Miller, who has seemingly taken over immigration policy recently, led the discussion with ICE, according to the Post.

ICE officials, including acting deputy director Matthew Albence, reportedly shot down the proposition.

"It was basically an idea that Miller wanted that nobody else wanted to carry out," a congressional investigator who has spoken to one of the whistleblowers told the Post.

"What happened here is that Stephen Miller called people at ICE, said if they're going to cut funding you've got to make sure you're releasing people in Pelosi's district and other congressional districts."

Trump went directly to former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who resigned earlier this week, but she and the DHS legal team struck down the idea, CNN reported Thursday.

The president has long railed against sanctuary cities, even proposing in 2016 that the federal government cut off all funding to those jurisdictions. A federal appeals court ruled in February that he could not do that in Philadelphia, specifically.

The news of the failed plan comes amid Trump's intentions to double down in ICE after rescinding acting director Ronald Vitiello's nomination to lead the department, instead saying he needed someone "tougher."

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