Trump: GOP lead­ers ‘ on board’ with talks

The Record (Troy, NY) - - FRONT PAGE -

WASH­ING­TON » Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Thurs­day said he was “fairly close” to a deal with con­gres­sional lead­ers to pre­serve pro­tec­tions for hun­dreds of thou­sands of young im­mi­grants liv­ing il­le­gally in America and declared that Repub­li­can lead­ers were “very­much on board.”

But Trump, speak­ing to re­porters be­fore surveying hur­ri­cane dam­age in Florida, pushed back against Demo­cratic lead­ers who claimed there was a deal on the De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals ( DACA) ini­tia­tive. He also said his promised wall along the U. S.Mex­ico bor­der would “come later,” but would need to hap­pen soon.

“We’re work­ing on a plan sub­ject to get­ting mas­sive bor­der con­trols. We’re work­ing on a plan for DACA. Peo­ple want to see that hap­pen,” Trump said. He added: “‘ I think we’re fairly close but we have to get mas­sive bor­der se­cu­rity.”

After he landed in Florida, he declared re­peat­edly, “If we don’t have a wall, we’re do­ing noth­ing.”

Trump, in a se­ries of early morn­ing tweets, dis­puted

the char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of a pri­vate White House din­ner on Wed­nes­day night by his guests, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York and Rep. Nancy Pelosi of Cal­i­for­nia, the top Democrats on Capi­tol Hill. Trump said there was no deal, de­spite a state­ment from Pelosi and Schumer an­nounc­ing a broad agree­ment.

On the Se­nate floor Thurs­day morn­ing, Schumer in­sisted that both sides were in agree­ment and there was no dis­pute.

“If you lis­ten to the pres­i­dent’s com­ments this morn­ing ... it is clear that what Leader Pelosi and I put out last night was ex­actly ac­cu­rate,” said Schumer. “We have reached an un­der­stand­ing on this is­sue. We have to work out de­tails, and we can work to­gether on a bor­der se­cu­rity pack­age with the White House and get DACA on the floor quickly.”

In­deed, in the face of fe­ro­cious push­back from con­ser­va­tive law­mak­ers and me­dia out­lets in­clud­ing Bre­it­bart, run by for­mer Trump ad­viser Steve Bannon, the White House ap­peared fo­cused more on shap­ing pre­sen­ta­tion of the agree­ment, than on deny­ing it out­right.

“By no means was any deal ever reached,” White House spokes­woman Lind­say Wal­ters told re­porters aboard Air Force One as the

pres­i­dent trav­eled to Florida. “This is some­thing that Congress needs towork on.”

But Bre­it­bart was al­ready la­bel­ing Trump “Amnesty Don.”

“The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion will not be dis­cussing amnesty,” Wal­ters said. The pres­i­dent wants “a re­spon­si­ble path for­ward in im­mi­gra­tion re­form. That could in­clude le­gal cit­i­zen­ship over a pe­riod of time. But ab­so­lutely by no means will this White House dis­cuss amnesty,” she said, al­though most con­ser­va­tives would con­sider “le­gal cit­i­zen­ship over a pe­riod of time” to meet the def­i­ni­tion of amnesty.

The House’s fore­most im­mi­gra­tion hard- liner, GOP Rep. Steve King of Iowa, ad­dressed Trump over Twit­ter, writ­ing that if the re­ports were true, “Trump base is blown up, de­stroyed, ir­repara­ble, and dis­il­lu­sioned be­yond re­pair. No prom­ise is cred­i­ble.”

Schumer and Pelosi said in a state­ment that the de­tails on bor­der se­cu­rity needed to be ne­go­ti­ated, that both sides agreed “the wall would not be any part of this agree­ment” and that Trump said he would pur­sue the wall later.

And soon after, Trump ap­peared to con­firm that ap­proach. “The wall will come later, we’re right now ren­o­vat­ing large sec­tions of wall, mas­sive sec­tions, mak­ing it brand new,” he told re­porters be­fore his Florida trip.

He also said Repub­li­can con­gres­sional lead­ers,

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis­con­sin and Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell of Ken­tucky fa­vored his ap­proach on the im­mi­gra­tion pro­gram. “Ryan and McCon­nell agree with us on DACA,” Trump said, adding that he had spo­ken to them by tele­phone.

Ryan, mean­while, was adamant after speak­ing with Trump and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly that no agree­ment had been reached.

“The pres­i­dent wasn’t ne­go­ti­at­ing a deal last night. The pres­i­dent was talk­ing with Demo­cratic lead­ers to get their per­spec­tives,” he told re­porters on Capi­tol Hill.

Repub­li­cans in Congress, mean­while, tried to make sense of the con­fu­sion.

“Slow down the trains, there’s no agree­ment,” said Rep. Dave Brat, R- Va., who warned” ‘’ You can make a deal all you want, it’s got to get past the House and the Se­nate.”

It was a head- snap­ping se­ries of events for a pres­i­dent whose White House cam­paign de­mo­nized im­mi­grants and fo­cused in­tensely on con­struc­tion of a bor­der wall that Trump in­sisted Mex­ico would pay for. Dur­ing the cam­paign, Trump declared re­peat­edly that he would “im­me­di­ately ter­mi­nate” Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s DACA pro­gram upon tak­ing of­fice, call­ing it “il­le­gal.”

How­ever, since then the pres­i­dent has ex­pressed em­pa­thy for the nearly 800,000 young peo­ple —

many brought to the United States as tod­dlers or chil­dren— who were pro­tected from de­por­ta­tion and given work per­mits un­der the pro­gram.

“Does any­body re­ally want to throw out good, ed­u­cated and ac­com­plished young peo­ple who have jobs, some serv­ing in the mil­i­tary? Re­ally!” he tweeted Thurs­day.”

Trump an­nounced last week that his ad­min­is­tra­tion was re­scind­ing the pro­gram, but gave Congress six months to come up with a leg­isla­tive fix.

The back- and- for th comes as the pres­i­dent has sud­denly turned to Democrats to jump- start his leg­isla­tive im­per­a­tives. Only days ago, Trump and the Demo­cratic lead­ers agreed to back a three- month ex­ten­sion of the debt limit in or­der to speed hur­ri­cane as­sis­tance.

A per­son briefed on the Wed­nes­day night meet­ing, who spoke on con­di­tion anonymity about the pri­vate get- to­gether, said the deal had cen­tered on bi­par­ti­san leg­is­la­tion that would pro­vide even­tual cit­i­zen­ship for the young im­mi­grants.

But Trump said Thurs­day that cit­i­zen­ship was off the ta­ble: “We’re not look­ing at cit­i­zen­ship. We’re not look­ing at amnesty. We’re look­ing at al­low­ing peo­ple to stay here,” he said.

Early re­sponse from con­ser­va­tives in­di­cated their loy­alty to Trump did not go so far as to al­low them to em­brace his im­mi­gra­tion pact with the Democrats.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump speaks to mem­bers of the me­dia be­fore board­ing Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Wash­ing­ton Thurs­day.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

House Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi, D- Calif., talks with re­porters on the morn­ing after she and Se­nate Demo­cratic Leader Chuck Schumer met with Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump seek­ing a leg­isla­tive so­lu­tion to the De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals pro­gram, at the Capi­tol in Wash­ing­ton, Thurs­day morn­ing.

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