Jake Tapper of CNN is reporting that Donald Trump told immigration officials on the Mexican border to essentially ignore court orders allowing Central American migrants seeking asylum into the country. Here is a taste of Tapper’s piece:
Three Thursdays ago, in a meeting at the Oval Office with top officials — including Nielsen, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, top aides Jared Kushner, Mercedes Schlapp and Dan Scavino, White House counsel Pat Cipollone and more — the President, according to one attendee, was “ranting and raving, saying border security was his issue.”
Senior administration officials say that Trump then ordered Nielsen and Pompeo to shut down the port of El Paso the next day, Friday, March 22, at noon. The plan was that in subsequent days the Trump administration would shut down other ports.
Nielsen told Trump that would be a bad and even dangerous idea, and that the governor of Texas, Republican Greg Abbott, has been very supportive of the President.
She proposed an alternative plan that would slow down entries at legal ports. She argued that if you close all the ports of entry all you would be doing is ending legal trade and travel, but migrants will just go between ports.
According to two people in the room, the President said: “I don’t care.”
Ultimately, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney seemed to have been able to talk the President out of closing the port of El Paso. Trump, however, was insistent that his administration begin taking another action — denying asylum seekers entry. Nielsen tried to explain to the President that the asylum laws allow migrants from Central America to come to the US and gain entry. She talked to the White House counsel to see if there were any exceptions, but he told her that her reading of the law was correct.
Neither the White House nor the Department of Homeland Security responded to official requests for comment.
Last Friday, the President visited Calexico, California, where he said, “We’re full, our system’s full, our country’s full — can’t come in! Our country is full, what can you do? We can’t handle any more, our country is full. Can’t come in, I’m sorry. It’s very simple.”
Behind the scenes, two sources told CNN, the President told border agents to not let migrants in. Tell them we don’t have the capacity, he said. If judges give you trouble, say, “Sorry, judge, I can’t do it. We don’t have the room.”
After the President left the room, agents sought further advice from their leaders, who told them they were not giving them that direction and if they did what the President said they would take on personal liability. You have to follow the law, they were told.
Read the entire piece here.
Some will say that Tapper represents the “left-wing media” who is out to get Trump. I have a few thoughts on this:
- Tapper is an excellent reporter who is one of the most fair-minded interviewers on CNN.
- What Tapper is reporting here fits very well with everything we know about Donald Trump.
- A question for Trump supporters (or “left-wing media” haters): Is there anything that the CNN or New York Times could uncover about Trump that might actually be true?
Tapper’s piece is just further proof that Trump is a populist tyrant. He won in 2016 by promising to build a wall. His immigration policy thus far has been draconian. Some of the children he separated from their parents are lost and it will take up to two years to find them. Today he falsely claimed that Obama is to blame for the separation of these children. He believes that he has a mandate from the people (or at least the ones who elected him) to do these things and, as a result, he does not pay much attention to the rule of law, checks and balances, or time-honored American institutions.
Trump’s populism reminds me of Andrew Jackson’s rationale for removing the Cherokees from their homeland and sending them on the so-called “Trail of Tears.” The white men who voted for Jackson wanted the Cherokee gone. Jackson listened and responded. This is what democracy meant in the early 19th century. Maybe this is why Michigan conservatives do not want students to study “democracy” in their history classes.
And where are the Trump court evangelicals today? What do they have to say about his disregard for the law, his separation of children, and his constant lies? Here is what they are up to today:
Bob Jeffress, with his snarky laugh and Trump name-dropping, is still obsessed with the fact that Pete Buttigieg is gay, progressive and pro-choice. (By the way, Jeffress’s defense of Mike Pence here does not seem to hold-up when compared to past Pence statements on the subject).
Jack Graham is hanging out with the “My Pillow” guy:
I am not sure if Paula White has any followers among the separated families on the border, but if she does, they are going to have a hard time taking her advice here: