Where Does President Trump Stand On The Compromise Budget Bill?
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
The shutdown is over but in many ways, Congress is still stuck in the same place. Republicans have to come up with a spending bill that will pass with support from Democrats. And Democrats are insisting that it has to include a fix for DACA. These are protections that would run out in March. So where's the White House in all these negotiations? And what does President Trump want to see in any compromise bill? We have Hogan Gidley on the line with us now. He's special assistant to the president and deputy White House press secretary.
Mr. Gidley, thanks for being with us.
HOGAN GIDLEY: Thank you so much for having me, Rachel.
MARTIN: The reason Democrats finally signed on to the temporary deal to get the government back open is because Senate Republicans agreed to take up the issue of DACA. This covers some of the people who were brought here illegally as children. President Trump has said he wants to find a solution for the DACA recipients too. So what does that look like, according to the White House?
GIDLEY: Well, the president has been very clear. He does want a solution. He wants a bipartisan solution. He's been talking about that for quite some time. But he's also been clear on this, that any national security package must include four main components. One is border security with a wall, two is ending chain migration, extended chain migration, three is ending the visa lottery program and four is finding a lasting, long-term solution for DACA, something that has eluded this country for quite some time.
MARTIN: But let me ask you, a couple weeks ago, the president said, hey, I'm going to leave this to Congress. Let them come up with a deal, I'm going to sign it, as long as it met those four criteria that you just laid out. A bipartisan group of lawmakers did that. They came up with a plan that met all those criteria. They took it to the president and he said, no.
GIDLEY: It didn't include any of those things, quite frankly. Senator Graham and Senator Durbin came to the president with a bill that actually increased illegal immigrants, increased the chain migration and granted legalization to as many as 8 million illegal immigrants and didn't provide any funding for a border wall whatsoever.
MARTIN: That's not how they characterize it.
GIDLEY: That's - well, I understand that. But a study by DHS and DOJ proves that. And when you look at the Migration Policy Institute's analysis of how many people are in this country illegally when you include DREAMers and the DACA recipients, you're looking at about 3.2 million people. Senator Graham and Senator Durbin's bill would give them legal status and then also give legal status for three years to their parents. And once they became citizens, it also granted them the ability to have chain migration for their aunts and uncles and cousins and second cousins and third cousins...
MARTIN: So the president changed...
GIDLEY: ...Making the total around $10 million.
MARTIN: The president changed his mind. He at first was hands off on this and said, Congress, you deal with it, I'll sign it. I'm not going to nitpick. And then he decided to get into it.
GIDLEY: Well, I wouldn't say nitpick. It didn't address any of the issues he talked about. I mean, again, when they came to him with a border wall funding, DHS commissioned a study and it said it needed $18 billion - not wanted but needed $18 billion for a wall. They came - Senator Durbin and Senator Graham came to the president said, we have a deal. It's bipartisan, everyone's excited. He said, great, bring it over. They brought it over and it had $1.6 billion, less than 1/10 of what was needed to complete a wall. So it was a complete...
MARTIN: So you want more funding for that border wall in any compromise deal. What about a DACA solution...
GIDLEY: Well, we need more funding for it. That's from DHS.
MARTIN: What about a DACA solution? Would the president support a pathway to citizenship?
GIDLEY: The president wants everything on the table because you have to have that in order to negotiate something that's long lasting. He's been very clear that he wants to protect those folks that are here, the youngest people in the DREAMers scenario and the DACA recipients. That's something he wants to do. But as far as...
MARTIN: What would stand in the way? What would stand in the way from him supporting a pathway to citizenship?
GIDLEY: Well, what would stand in the way from anything is legislators, excuse me, congressmen or senators who deal disingenuously. When they call him and tell him they have a bipartisan deal and they've come to an agreement and they bring it in front of him and it doesn't address any of the major areas he asked for, that's going to be a problem. And let's just be clear about Senator Durbin and Senator Graham. When they called the president and presented him a plan that was, quote, unquote, "bipartisan," they made it sound as though they'd worked so hard and gave up to get a little and worked back and forth.
Senator Graham and Senator Durbin have been on the same page on immigration for decades. So it wasn't a long stretch for them. They've had this bill sitting in their back pocket it seems like for a while.
MARTIN: You don't consider them to be representative of a true bipartisan solution.
GIDLEY: No. In fact, if you look at the Harvard study that just came out, I mean, it's an 80 percent issue people want to close down the borders. It's a 70 percent issue to end chain migration, a 68 percent issue to end the visa lottery program and ask people to come here on merit. That's a 70 percent issue, and this is a study from Harvard. So Senator Graham and Senator Durbin are so far out of the mainstream on what this country thinks.
MARTIN: The American population also wants a solution for the DACA recipients, republicans and democrats.
GIDLEY: Absolutely and so does the president. He's been very clear about that.
MARTIN: I want to move on now because there are reports about some staffing issues that we should address, a report specifically that the president was not pleased with how his chief of staff, John Kelly, characterized his evolution on immigration and the border wall. Does John Kelly still enjoy the full confidence and support of President Trump?
GIDLEY: Absolutely. They have a mutual respect for each other. I've seen them work together on multiple occasions. They are working so well together. And it's so indicative of how the press coverage has been with this president when 90 percent of the coverage has been deemed negative by various independent polling companies and then also showing so much of that coverage has to do with palace intrigue. It's just, quite frankly, nonsense.
MARTIN: Axios, the news site, is reporting that FBI director Christopher Wray threatened to resign over pressure from the president and the attorney general. They reportedly want Ray to fire Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. What can you tell us about that? Did Wray threaten to resign because he didn't like pressure coming from the White House?
GIDLEY: Actually, nothing - I haven't spoken with the president about that, so I've really got nothing to add.
MARTIN: Hogan Gidley, deputy White House press secretary, thanks for your time this morning.
GIDLEY: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.