Democrats Say They Had A Productive Dinner With President Trump

Sep 14, 2017
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Deal or no deal? That's the question following last night's meeting between President Trump and Democratic leaders Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative Nancy Pelosi. The president invited them over to the White House last night to discuss a number of issues, including the future of the DACA program or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. After this dinner, the two top congressional Democrats released a statement saying they had a, quote, "very productive dinner."

Then this morning, President Trump wrote on Twitter the following, quote, "no deal was made last night on DACA. Massive border security would have to be agreed to in exchange for consent, would be subject to vote," end quote. NPR's Geoff Bennett covers the White House and Congress, and he's in our studios this morning. Hi, Geoff.

GEOFF BENNETT, BYLINE: Good morning.

MARTIN: Tell us more about what we know about this meeting.

BENNETT: So they met for about two hours over Chinese food in the Blue Room of the White House last night, according to a congressional aide who was briefed on it. In the first half hour, they talked about trade issues. And then they turned to the options for fixing the DACA policy, which the president, as you know, has given Congress six months to fix it. As you said in the statement, Pelosi and Schumer said that the president agreed to them in principle to enshrine the protections of DACA into law quickly and then to work out this package for border security measures, excluding Trump's long-promised southern border wall.

MARTIN: So they said more than it's just a productive meeting. They were suggesting a deal has been reached. We've come to an agreement.

BENNETT: Yes. But the White House press secretary last night - Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Twitter said that while DACA and border security were both discussed, excluding the wall was certainly not agreed to. And then this morning, the president, as you mentioned, put out that tweet also saying that no deal was made last night. But here's the thing, Rachel. The president had a separate meeting yesterday with other members of the House. And several Democrats emerged from that meeting and said the president made clear to them that he did not expect border wall funding to be included in this legislative fix for DACA, that the money could be wrapped into another bill.

I think what's happening here is that the president is getting a lot of pushback from members of his conservative nationalist base who are opposed to enshrining these protections for these so-called DREAMers into law and who are opposed to anything that would even closely resemble amnesty for these young undocumented immigrants.

MARTIN: Yet he's - I hate to use the word doubling down again. I feel like we use it so much with him, but he's saying again on Twitter defending the rights of the DREAMers - right? - saying here, does anybody really want to throw good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? This is going to get him in hot water.

BENNETT: That's right. I mean, the president is trying to navigate this issue as best he can. I mean, here's something that Steve King - congressman from Iowa. He's a conservative immigration hardliner. Last night on Twitter, when word of this alleged deal came out, he wrote, if the AP - Associated Press - is correct, Trump base is blown up, destroyed, irreparable and disillusioned beyond repair. No promise is credible.

MARTIN: Wow.

BENNETT: That's a Trump supporter saying that about the president last night.

MARTIN: All right. And looking forward, the president is going to get on a plane. He's going to go to South Florida to survey the damage today.

BENNETT: Yeah. He's going to Fort Myers, Fla., where he's going to get a briefing on the Irma relief efforts. And then from there, he'll head to Naples, where he'll be joined by the vice president. And then they'll both visit with people affected by Irma, the president doing what he did after Harvey. Remember, he went to Texas twice. It's really about projecting an image of engagement around the federal hurricane relief effort.

MARTIN: All right. NPR's Geoff Bennett. Thanks so much, Geoff.

BENNETT: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.