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How Trump’s reported s***hole comments put DACA talks in jeopardy

What’s the political fallout from President Trump's reported incendiary comments about some immigrants? Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report and Margaret Talev of Bloomberg News join John Yang to discuss whether it has derailed immigration talks about DACA protections and how Republicans are responding in different ways.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Now it’s time for Politics Monday.

    NewsHour correspondent John Yang has more on the fallout from President Trump’s reported incendiary comments.

  • John Yang:

    Judy, we’re joined by Amy Walter, national editor of The Cook Political Report, and by Margaret Talev, senior White House correspondent for Bloomberg News.

    Thanks. Welcome to you both.

    Margaret, welcome to Politics Monday.

    Let me start with you.

    We have got the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend. We’re beginning a week that could end with a government showdown, and the president has spent this weekend talking about whether he’s a racist, talking about — there is a division within — a debate within the White House about what he said or might not have said in the Oval Office last week.

    What do you make of all this?

  • Margaret Talev:

    Remember, a week ago, “Fire and Fury,” the new book, was the big distraction that had completely engulfed the White House and raised questions about the president’s fitness to lead or raised the fact that there were questions even inside the White House about this.

    And now the focus has changed completely away from that and to this, but not without repercussions. Obviously, it makes the idea of trust between Democrats and the White House and certain Republicans, the ones who deny what was said or some version of what was said was said, makes it that much more difficult, if there needs to be a leap of faith, to get that leap of faith between now and the end of the week.

    And it has set off a series of foreign policy consequences involving U.S. ambassadors, leaders from other countries, relations with those other countries. And, you know, there’s domestic and international fallout, and that’s how we start the week.

  • Amy Walter:

    Yes, it’s chaos once again. Chaos really rules Washington, and a lot of it is driven not by policy, but by personalities.

    The fact is, nobody should be surprised that these deadlines are coming. We have known for a long time that government is going to run out of money at the end of the week. We have known that the DACA fix needs to happen before March. These are all solvable problems.

    But what we get into time and time again is a debate about policy that ends up then being a debate about Donald Trump, whether it’s about his temperament, whether it’s about his behavior, and now clearly about what he said or didn’t say.

    The Trump instinct always is to double and triple down on what he did and what he said and to focus on what his base wants, instead of saying, let’s move beyond this and let’s work to create, you know, a bigger, broader coalition.

    It is now we have gone from — what day was it when they had last week, Tuesday or Thursday? It all blends together — Tuesday or — having the president saying he wanted to see a beautiful deal.

  • Margaret Talev:

    This close to a deal.

  • Amy Walter:

    This close to a deal, to today saying that the senator Dickey Durbin is wrong, he’s misquoted me, and Democrats want to totally tank a deal.

  • John Yang:

    Margaret, is this going to tank a deal?

  • Margaret Talev:

    Well, look, there are a couple of options. There are two deadlines to look at.

    One is the shutdown deadline, which is Friday, unless they move it. And the other is the DACA deadline, which is March. And so the question becomes, really, for Democrats at this point, do they agree to separate those two, come up with another patch for yet another month — who thought we would be in this situation, but here we are — and sort of fight the immigration fight then?

    Or do they say, you know what, President Trump, you put us here. That’s fine. Either do a deal now, or we’re not signing off on the budget.

    And I think we will start to really understand how this is taking shape in the next couple of days.

  • Amy Walter:

    Yes, I think that’s very fair, and to see where Democrats are.

    It’s not just Republicans who are in a — or the president in a tough bind. You have Democrats who are up in 2018, this year, who sit in red states, who do not relish the idea of having to go into an election year defending a government showdown.

    And, more fundamentally, Democrats, just in terms of their DNA, they like government, right? That’s the whole point. So the idea that they’d shut down government, which provides services to people, goes against really everything that they stand for.

  • Margaret Talev:

    But then the question becomes, do they have more leverage a month from now to get this deal that affects not adult immigrants without documentation who got here, but people who came here as children, who were brought here by parents, and now participate in society, participate in the military, go to college, who are considered not just by liberal Democrats, but by the center of America and many Republicans, to be Americans, to be American citizens, de facto.

  • John Yang:

    Immigration has always been a divisive issue among Republicans.

    And now, this weekend, you had the spectacle of Senators Cotton and Perdue saying the president didn’t say what others people say he said, and then Lindsey Graham, who hasn’t quite said well, yes, he did, but he did say that his memory has not evolved, as Senator Perdue and Senator Cotton.

    What’s this doing to the Republicans?

  • Amy Walter:

    Well, I think the Republicans, you’re right, they have been divided for some time, although you did get 14 Republicans to sign on to and vote for an immigration reform bill in 2013 that addressed a lot of these issues of chain/family migration, of the — they didn’t call it a border wall, but border security, the diversity lottery.

    All of those were addressed there. And 14 Republicans that supported it. But, of course, what we saw was that that couldn’t get through a more conservative House. And it is the conservatives, Perdue and Cotton, who are driving the latest deal, that, you know, they want to see that as the final package, not the deal that’s bipartisan between Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin.

    So, that divide is still there, and they believe they have a president now that can push this through.

  • Margaret Talev:

    But there remains this question inside the Republican Party both in the House and the Senate, which is when President Trump says something that individual lawmakers disagree with, that they either find offensive or politically dangerous or wrong, whatever, do they push back every time?

    Do they speak out and say, that’s not right, we don’t agree with that? Or do they say as little as possible and try to manage him into a corner where they have can a meeting of the minds on policy?

    When you look at the polling, a lot of Republican voters in this country are very happy with the results of the first year of the Trump administration, conservative judicial nominees who are getting confirmed, deregulation of many areas, and the stock market.

    And so the question is, do they stick with that, or do they draw a line for political reasons, as well as for personal reasons? And you see here that split, I think, with Cotton and Perdue, vs. Graham, who has been traveling on Air Force One, playing golf with the president.

    Why is Senator Graham so close to President Trump? Well, now you see why. He was banking on trying to make some progress on DACA. And now this is all in jeopardy.

  • John Yang:

    Amy, very quickly, you look beyond the Beltway a lot.

    This weekend, you had two new governors take office with new legislatures. What are you looking for out of those states, New Jersey and Virginia, to tell us about governing in the age of Trump?

  • Amy Walter:

    Right. Yes.

    You had the governor of Virginia, a Democrat, come in. He was inaugurated this weekend, really talking about the spirit of cooperation. He has a very closely divided legislature that Republicans can control, wanting to work with them, talking about no more chaos.

    You have a Democratic governor in New Jersey who’s sworn in tomorrow who really is talking about being much more of an aggressive liberal force.

    And so I think we’re going to see a lot of those challenges for Democrats in the upcoming year, which one to be.

  • John Yang:

    Amy Walter, Margaret Talev, thanks for joining us.

  • Amy Walter:

    You’re welcome.

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