What A Difference A Little Election Makes
Back in January of this year, Trump sat down with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and according to the New York Times:
“[Schumer] discussed the possibility of fully funding the President’s wall on the southern border with Mexico. In exchange, the President agreed to support legalizing young immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.”
But that deal never happened. Trump consulted with his cohorts and they demanded a lot more in order for the deal to move along. So it didn’t. Even though initially, it was Trump who suggested immigration legislation be tackled in two phases: 1) DACA, 2) Comprehensive. It’s only after his team got a hold of him did Trump start saying on second thought, I’ll only trade DACA for everything. (The future of those immigrants covered by DACA is still very much up in the air.)
And the White House subsequently asserted Schumer’s offer did not in fact ever exist. Not so, said Schumer. Insisting that it was actually Trump who put a number on the table:
“The President picked a number for the wall. I accepted it.”
At the time, the Washington Post reported that number at $25-billion.
Here’s that clip from Schumer in January (and yes, it blows our mind that this happened this year):
Back then, we were highly critical of Schumer, because we didn’t understand why he was willing to give in to the President in order to help solve a crisis that was entirely of Trump’s making. Because after all, it was his then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions who almost gleefully moved to cancel DACA protections.
We also suggested not consummating the “DACA for wall” deal (assuming it did exist) would become one of Trump’s biggest regrets.
And we saw that in a strange and telling back-and-forth between Trump, Schumer, and Nancy Pelosi, who’s likely to be Speaker of the House come January. (Vice President Mike Pence was also there; much was made about his attempt to fade into the background.)
A visibly agitated Trump confronted the two Democratic leaders: rolling out a litany of conspiracy theories in support of his physical wall: drugs, terrorists, communicable diseases, and threatening to shut down the government if he doesn’t get it.
(By the way, House Republican leaders, who were never that gung-ho about the wall, now seem to be fully in favor of it, perhaps as a last “f-you” to Democrats before losing control of the chamber.)
Back at the meeting with Trump, Schumer and Pelosi pushed back, while also requesting their negotiating with the President be done in private.
Here’s a clip (or if you want to watch the entire back-and-forth, click on the photo at the top of the page):
And while the oddness of the encounter is what most news accounts focused on, Trump also backed way off his previous budget demand for his wall: he’d been pretty firm at $25-billion. All paid for, all up front. Yet at the meeting with Pelosi and Schumer he came up with a new number: $5-billion. Big difference. Doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to build the wall at that price. Even to prevent a shutdown. Just that Trump really doesn’t want that symbol of his legacy slip away.
Later, Pelosi explained why she repeatedly asked the President to please negotiate without cameras and the media in the room. She didn’t mince words:
“We didn’t want to say, in front of those people: ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about’.”