Trump undercuts Kelly on border wall as shutdown looms

In a stark contradiction from his chief of staff, Trump said his position on the border wall never "evolved"

By Charlie May
Published January 18, 2018 8:53AM (EST)
 (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

In words that directly contradicted his chief of staff, President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday that his position on the proposed so-called wall along the U.S.-Mexico border has been the same since day one and has not ever "evolved."

In a meeting on Wednesday, White House, Chief of Staff John Kelly told some Democratic lawmakers that Trump's campaign positions on the border wall, among other bombastic hard-line immigration promises, were "uninformed," The Washington Post reported.

"Certain things are said during the campaign that are uninformed," Kelly said, several attendees told the Post.

The report was later corroborated by Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., who attended the meeting and said in a statement, "chief of staff Kelly said today that the president’s campaign was not fully informed about the wall he was promising to voters."

"Kelly went on to say that many campaigns are not fully informed about every policy and that campaigning and governing are two different things and that governing is harder," Gutierrez's statement continued. "Kelly took credit for educating the president on the wall and that a concrete barrier from sea to shining sea was no longer the conception of border security barriers supported today by the White House."

Kelly added that there will be no wall constructed "that Mexico will pay for," the Post reported. "In one way or another, it’s possible that we could get the revenue from Mexico, but not directly from their government," he later said in a Fox News interview.

All of these petty bumps in the road, along with Trump's recent racist remarks during a bipartisan meeting on immigration, have only prolonged a bipartisan deal, of which there are now at least two on the table. It's still not entirely clear which bill the president would be open to signing, and another tweet on Thursday morning indicated there will be no deal without his wall. Some Democrats have outright opposed temporary spending solutions and finally want a long-term deal on DACA, while others have said their focus would be on preventing a shutdown.

The government is set to once again run out of funding on Friday, and Republicans are coming up short of votes needed to avoid a federal shutdown. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and far-right House Freedom Caucus members have scrambled to whip support for another temporary spending bill, known as a continuing resolution (CR), in order to keep the government running through Feb. 16. "In a bid to pick up votes from both parties, the measure would also fund a popular children’s health program for six more years and delay the implementation of several Obamacare taxes," Politico reported. That proposal, to fund CHIP for years, seemed to be something Trump was in favor of Thursday morning.

Democrats, led by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, have vowed to defend DACA recipients and reject a deal that won't include them.

There are currently not enough votes for the temporary funding bill, but Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina said progress was still being made on Thursday morning, Reuters reported.

But Meadows has expressed discontent with the "stop-and-go" budgeting cycle, Politico reported. Meadows wants to work his way in and participate in negotiations on immigration and spending, Politico reported. Of the three previous continuing resolutions, he said, "So how is this CR going to produce a plan that’s different than the last three? Are we just going to hope that Feb. 16 is better than Jan. 19 just because it’s in a different month?"

Charlie May

MORE FROM Charlie MayFOLLOW @charliejmay

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Daca John Kelly President Donald Trump