Gra­ham says Trump isn’t giv­ing in on south­ern bor­der wall

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WORLD -

A lead­ing Se­nate Repub­li­can close to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump says Trump isn’t giv­ing in on his de­mands for a wall along the U.S.Mex­ico bor­der, the is­sue that’s caused the par­tial gov­ern­ment shut­down that’s now in its fourth week.

Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham says he en­cour­aged Trump dur­ing a tele­phone con­ver­sa­tion Sun­day to re­open gov­ern­ment for a pe­riod of weeks to try to ne­go­ti­ate a deal with Democrats that would break the im­passe.

But the South Carolina Repub­li­can said Trump wants a deal first.

Demo­cratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also has in­sisted that Trump end the shut­down first be­fore any ne­go­ti­at­ing takes place.

“I tried to see if we could open up the gov­ern­ment for a lim­ited pe­riod of time to ne­go­ti­ate a deal,” Gra­ham said. “The pres­i­dent says ‘Let’s make a deal, then open up the gov­ern­ment.’ Nancy Pelosi says even if you opened up the gov­ern­ment I wouldn’t fund a wall.”

“What is he sup­posed to do? Just give in. He’s not go­ing to give in,” Gra­ham said.

The as­sess­ment from Gra­ham, who has be­come close to Trump, sug­gested the shut­down could last for weeks longer, if not months, in­flict­ing ad­di­tional fi­nan­cial pain on the 800,000 fed­eral work­ers who have been idled or re­quired to work with­out pay for the du­ra­tion.

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., called Gra­ham’s idea for a brief re­open­ing of the gov­ern­ment a “great place to start.”

“Stop harm­ing our coun­try and our econ­omy and let’s make our best ef­forts be­cause we all agree we need to in­vest more in bor­der se­cu­rity,” Coons said.

Gra­ham said he thinks Trump is will­ing to ac­cept the level of wall fund­ing he is seek­ing, along with some im­mi­gra­tion mea­sures Democrats might find ac­cept­able, such as help­ing im­mi­grants who were il­le­gally brought to the U.S. as chil­dren.

But Trump has said that while he is in­ter­ested in pur­su­ing a broader over­haul of the im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem, he first wants to hear what the Supreme Court has to say about the group of im­mi­grants known as “Dream­ers.”

Pelosi also has shown no in­ter­est in ac­cept­ing a wall - she has called it an “im­moral­ity” - in ex­change for the sug­gested im­mi­gra­tion fixes.

And Trump ap­peared to shoot down Gra­ham’s sug­ges­tion of a “wall plus” deal, say­ing Sun­day on Twit­ter that even Democrats don’t want to make “Dream­ers” part of the shut­down talks.

“The dam­age done to our Coun­try from a badly bro­ken Bor­der Drugs, Crime and so much that is bad - is far greater than a Shut­down, which the Dems can eas­ily fix as soon as they come back to Wash­ing­ton!” Trump said in a sep­a­rate tweet.

Gra­ham has been among the most out­spo­ken Repub­li­cans push­ing Trump to use his au­thor­ity to de­clare a na­tional emer­gency to cir­cum­vent Con­gress and build the wall by tap­ping un­spent money sit­ting in var­i­ous gov­ern­ment ac­counts, in­clud­ing for mil­i­tary con­struc­tion and dis­as­ter re­lief.

Democrats op­pose such a dec­la­ra­tion but may be pow­er­less to stop it. Many Repub­li­cans are wary, too, fear­ing its use by a fu­ture Demo­cratic pres­i­dent.

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