Be­tween Twit­ter rants, Trump turns to fa­mil­iar is­sues in KC: im­mi­gra­tion and the wall

The Kansas City Star - - Front Page - BY HUNTER WOODALL [email protected]­

A sub­dued Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, lead­ing an ad­min­is­tra­tion with key se­nior po­si­tions in flux and the po­ten­tial for new dam­ag­ing dis­clo­sures from spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller, fell back on more com­fort­able is­sues in his Kansas City speech Fri­day: im­mi­gra­tion and his cov­eted border wall.

“Il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion is a threat to the well-be­ing of ev­ery Amer­i­can com­mu­nity, threat­en­ing in­no­cent fam­i­lies, over­whelm­ing pub­lic re­sources and drain­ing the fed­eral trea­sury,” Trump told a law en­force­ment con­fer­ence spon­sored by the Depart­ment of Jus­tice. “Congress must fully fund border se­cu­rity in the year end­ing fund­ing bill. We have to get this done.”

Trump’s ap­pear­ance came amid a heavy news day, even by the tur­bu­lent stan­dards of the Trump era. Be­fore a late­morn­ing land­ing at Kansas City In­ter­na­tional Air­port, he launched a tweet storm against Mueller, for­mer FBI director James Comey and deputy at­tor­ney gen­eral Rod Rosen­stein.

He also an­nounced new nom­i­nees for at­tor­ney gen­eral and United Na­tions am­bas­sador. While he was in the air, mul­ti­ple news out­lets re­ported that the long-ex­pected de­par­ture of Chief of Staff John Kelly could hap­pen in a mat­ter of days.

Just after his speech, Trump fired back at for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son, who crit­i­cized the pres­i­dent’s predilec­tion for Tweets and lack of pol­icy depth in a Hous­ton ap­pear­ance Thurs­day evening. He tweeted that Tiller­son “didn’t have the men­tal ca­pac­ity needed. He was dumb as a rock and I couldn’t get rid of him fast enough. He was lazy as hell.”

Trump ad­dressed the fi­nal day of the Jus­tice Depart­ment’s Project Safe Neigh­bor­hoods Na­tional Con­fer­ence at the Westin Crown Cen­ter. The three-day event was at­tended by around 700 peo­ple, in­clud­ing U.S. at­tor­neys, po­lice chiefs and prose­cu­tors, some of them armed and wear­ing their badges as they walked around the

con­fer­ence ho­tel.

He ap­plauded the pro­gram’s im­pact on vi­o­lent crime, but quickly piv­oted to im­mi­gra­tion, de­nounc­ing “sanc­tu­ary cities” and calling for funds to build the border wall, an is­sue that may cause a gov­ern­ment shut­down just be­fore Christmas.

“Amer­i­can politi­cians should pro­tect Amer­i­can cit­i­zens not crim­i­nal aliens,” Trump said. “Not one more Amer­i­can life should be stolen be­cause of rad­i­cal politi­cians pur­su­ing their open bor­ders agenda.”

He com­pared the cost of the wall to the im­pact of il­le­gal heroin on the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s fi­nances.

“We’re talk­ing about a wall for $20 bil­lion, $15 bil­lion, (we) could do it even cheaper (if) I have to, and it’ll be bet­ter than any­body’s ever seen a wall. Think of that,” he said.

Peo­ple against the wall, are “play­ing po­lit­i­cal games,” Trump said.

“I ac­tu­ally think the pol­i­tics of what they’re do­ing is very bad for them, but we’re go­ing to very soon find out,” Trump said.

Maybe he’s not right, Trump said.

“But usu­ally I’m right,” Trump said. “Like I said, I’m go­ing to win for pres­i­dent. And some peo­ple said, that won’t hap­pen.

“And guess what, look who’s up here now folks,” Trump said to ap­plause from the law en­force­ment filled crowd.

Trump’s claims about un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants drain­ing re­sources from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment are “a clear lie,” said Alex Martinez, a DACA re­cip­i­ent who is the director of the Kansas/Mis­souri Dream Al­liance.

“It’s a tac­tic to in­cite fear to mo­bi­lize his base against peo­ple like me,” Martinez said. “To make them fear me, just an im­mi­grant per­son who’s try­ing to do ev­ery­thing to par­tic­i­pate in this democ­racy, to make this coun­try bet­ter.”

Trump had lit­tle to say about Kansas City dur­ing his brief ap­pear­ance. He seemed sub­dued and dis­tracted for por­tions of the speech, prais­ing crime fight­ing ef­forts “right here in St. Louis.”

Early on, Trump men­tioned his fre­quent pres­ence in the area to help Mis­souri At­tor­ney Gen­eral Josh Haw­ley in his suc­cess­ful Se­nate run.

“Josh re­ally stepped up to the plate,” Trump said. “You know in life, you never know. You pick some­body, looks good, sounds good, think he’s smart. And then the choke. They choke like dogs.”

Trump paid only a mo­ment of at­ten­tion to the de­ci­sion to nom­i­nate Wil­liam Barr, the for­mer at­tor­ney gen­eral un­der Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush, for the na­tion’s lead­ing law en­force­ment of­fice.

KEITH MY­ERS kmy­[email protected]­

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump spoke Fri­day at the Project Safe Neigh­bor­hoods Na­tional Con­fer­ence at The Westin Crown Cen­ter ho­tel.

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