Trump's wall may not be the same as advertised
Three confidantes of President Donald Trump, including his departing chief of staff, are indicating that the presidents signature campaign pledge to...
Three confidantes of President Donald Trump, including his departing chief of staff, are indicating that the president's signature campaign pledge to build a wall along the US-Mexico border would not be fulfilled as advertised.
Even as Trump, who is virtually alone in the White House makes calls to members of the Congress telling them that he will not give up the demand for the wall, the Democrats have no interest to encourage such a plan.
Trump sparked fervent chants of "Build that wall!" at rallies before and after his election and more recently cited a lack of funding for a border wall as the reason for partially shutting down the government. At times, he has also waved off the idea that the wall could be any kind of barrier.
However, White House chief of staff John Kelly told the Los Angeles Times in an interview that Trump abandoned the notion of "a solid concrete wall early on in the administration."
"To be honest, it's not a wall," Kelly said, adding that the mix of technological enhancements and "steel slat" barriers the president now wants along the border resulted from conversations with law enforcement professionals. Trump feels that if he makes a deal sans the wall, his voters will see him as inauthentic after he talked about a wall in rally after rally for three years.
Along the same lines, White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway called discussion of the apparent contradiction "a silly semantic argument." "There may be a wall in some places, there may be steel slats, there may be technological enhancements," Conway said. Senator Lindsey Graham said that Trump is open-minded about combining wall funding with other things to end a partial government shutdown.
Graham also said that, "the wall has become a metaphor for border security" and referred to "a physical barrier along the border." He also suggested that the President may be open to making a deal as long as the border is secured.
But a previous attempt to reach a compromise that addressed the status of "Dreamers" young immigrants brought to the US as children broke down last year as a result of escalating White House demands.
Graham said he hoped to end the shutdown by offering Democrats incentives to get them to vote for wall funding. According to Conway, The president has already compromised by dropping his request for the wall from $25 billion to $5 billion and further to $2.5 billion. But the Democrats are holding the line.
"Democrats have a chance here to work with me and others, including the president, to bring legal status to people who have very uncertain lives," Graham said.
The partial government shutdown began December 22 after Trump bowed to conservative demands that he fight to make good on his vow and secure funding for the wall before Republicans lose control of the House on Wednesday. Democrats have remained committed to blocking the president's priority, and with neither side engaging in substantive negotiation, the effect of the partial shutdown was set to spread and to extend into the new year.
Trump suggested as much again in a tweet on Sunday: "President and Mrs Obama built/has a ten foot Wall around their DC mansion/compound. I agree, totally necessary for their safety and security. The US needs the same thing, slightly larger version!"
Aside from what constitutes a wall, neither side appeared ready to budge off its negotiating position. The two sides have had little direct contact during the stalemate, and Trump did not ask Republicans, who hold a monopoly on power in Washington until Thursday, to keep Congress in session.
Talks have been at a stalemate for more than a week, after Democrats said the White House offered to accept USD 2.5 billion for border security. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer told Vice President Mike Pence that it wasn't acceptable, nor was it guaranteed that Trump, under intense pressure from his conservative base to fulfil his signature campaign promise, would settle for that amount.
Conway claimed Sunday that "the president has already compromised" by dropping his request for the wall from USD 25 billion, and she called on Democrats to return to the negotiating table.
"It is with them," she said, explaining why Trump was not reaching out to Democrats.
Democrats maintain that they have already presented the White House with three options to end the shutdown, none of which fund the wall, and insist that it's Trump's move.
Meanwhile, the president tweets blaming everyone but himself for a shutdown he called for more than 25 times.
After cancelling a vacation to his private Florida club, Trump spent the weekend at the White House. He has remained out of the public eye since returning early Thursday from a 29-hour trip to visit US troops in Iraq, instead taking to Twitter to attack Democrats. He also moved to defend himself from criticism that he couldn't deliver on the wall while the GOP controlled both the House and Senate.
"For those that naively ask why didn't the Republicans get approval to build the Wall over the last year, it is because in the Senate we need ten Democrat votes, and they will gives us "none" for Border Security!," he tweeted. "Now we have to do it the hard way, with a Shutdown."