Trump calls for ‘bipartisan’ immigration deal for ‘dreamers’ but reiterates demand for border wall

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders outlined President Trump’s priorities on immigration reform on Jan. 4. (Reuters)

President Trump on Thursday called on Congress to deliver a bipartisan deal to ensure that some younger undocumented immigrants can remain in the country without fear of deportation, but he maintained his demand for a border wall and cuts to legal immigration channels that Democrats have opposed.

“I think it can be bipartisan,” Trump said at the White House ahead of a meeting with Republican senators on immigration. “I hope it can be bipartisan. It can take care of a lot of problems; it would be really nice to do it in a bipartisan way.”

Lawmakers are facing a March 5 deadline to pass legislation to help the dreamers, immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, after Trump announced in September he would terminate an Obama-era program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) that has provided two-year work permits to hundreds of thousands of them. Nearly 700,000 dreamers had been enrolled in the program and, after March 5, nearly 1,000 per day will lose their work permits unless Congress acts.

Democrats are pushing to complete a deal on DACA by Jan. 19, when lawmaker face another deadline to secure a funding bill to keep the government open. Some Republicans, however, have resisted tying the two issues together.

“If we have support from Democrats on DACA that would be terrific,” Trump said. But the president emphasized that “any legislation on DACA must secure our border with a wall. It must give our immigration officers the resources they need to stop illegal immigration.”

He also reiterated previous calls to end a diversity visa lottery that provides 50,000 green cards a year to immigrants from countries with low immigration rates to the United States. “The lottery system has to be laughed at by people outside our country,” Trump said.

After the meeting at the White House, two Republican senators, Thom Tillis (N.C.) and James Lankford (Okla.) said in a joint statement that the lawmakers and Trump are “on the same page when it comes to security our borders once and for all and providing long-term certainty for DACA youth.”

However, the senators added that “our discussions on border security and enforcement with Democrats are much further apart, and that is key to getting a bipartisan deal on DACA. Until that happens, we cannot accomplish the solutions our country needs and many families deserve.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump would play host to a bipartisan group of Congress members next week to continue the immigration negotiations.

Immigrant rights groups, including those that represent dreamers, have called for a “clean” DACA bill that is not attached to the spending bill and does not contain other border security provisions. Congressional Democrats have signaled they are open to some security measures, but they have steadfastly refused to support Trump’s border wall, saying such a barrier is costly and unnecessary at a time when illegal crossings at the Mexican border are at records lows. Some moderate Republicans are also wary of supporting a wall.

Among the GOP senators meeting with Trump was Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.), who has been supportive of immigration reform efforts that offer a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Trump, in his remarks, said Graham “used to be a great enemy of mine; now he’s a great friend.”

“We’re working with Democrats,” Trump added. “We’re moving across the aisle. I think we have a lot of support. But we’ll soon see. I’d like to take care of DACA, but only under these conditions.”


Trump on Bannon compliment: ‘He changed his tune pretty quick’

President Trump talks to Stephen K. Bannon, right, and Jared Kushner during a swearing-in ceremony for senior staff members at the White House in Washington on Jan. 22, 2017. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

President Trump spoke publicly Thursday about his nasty feud with former senior aide Stephen K. Bannon, noting that the Breitbart News executive had praised him on a radio show a night earlier.

“He called me a ‘great man’ last night,” Trump told reporters at the White House, ahead of a meeting with Republican senators on immigration. “He obviously changed his tune pretty quick.”

Bannon delivered the compliment Wednesday evening on “Breitbart News Tonight,” which is broadcast on Sirius XM Radio, during which he also emphasized that he supports Trump “day in and day out.” His remarks appeared to be an effort to ratchet down tensions with the president in the wake of a new book in which Bannon was sharply critical of some Trump aides and family members.

Trump had lashed out at Bannon earlier Wednesday, saying his former campaign chairman had “lost his mind” and accusing him of leaking sensitive White House information. Among other things, Bannon called a Trump Tower meeting between Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer “treasonous.”

Trump aides also criticized the book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” by Michael Wolff, calling it fiction. The president’s personal lawyers served cease-and-desist letters to Wolff and his publisher in an effort to stop release of the tell-all.

In his remarks at the White House, Trump insisted that he no longer communicates with Bannon, who left the White House under pressure in August. Last month, Bannon said in a television interview that he regularly spoke with Trump.

“I don’t talk to him. That’s just a misnomer,” Trump said.

Asked by reporters for her opinion of the book as she entered the Capitol on Thursday, Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump smiled, laughed at first and said, “I think the president has made his point of view very clear and that the White House agrees with him.”

She walked away without taking other questions.

Ed O’Keefe contributed to this report.


Trump making plans to attend Georgia-Alabama college football championship

President Trump points to guests at the conclusion of a Dec. 20 White House event to celebrate Congress passing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

President Trump is reportedly making plans to attend the college football national championship game between the University of Georgia and the University of Alabama on Monday night in Atlanta.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Wednesday that local law enforcement is working with the Secret Service to prepare for Trump’s arrival at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. First lady Melania Trump also is expected to attend the game. A White House official did not contest the report, although the plans have not been finalized.

On Tuesday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders opened the daily briefing by offering Trump’s congratulations to the two teams for their semifinal victories. Both schools, she noted, are “in the heart of Trump country.”

Republican Donald Trump won Alabama by 30 points and Georgia by 5 over Democrat Hillary Clinton in the last presidential election. But Trump experienced an embarrassing political defeat last month when Republican Roy Moore, whom the president had endorsed, lost to Democrat Doug Jones in the U.S. Senate race in Alabama. Jones was sworn into office Wednesday.

The Atlanta newspaper reported that Nick Ayers, chief of staff to Vice President Pence, who hails from Georgia, would attend the game with the Trumps.

Since taking office, Trump has not attended any college sports events and, aside from visits to two professional golf tournaments, has not watched professional games in person. In October, Pence walked out of an NFL game between the Indianapolis Colts and the San Francisco 49ers after some 49ers took a knee during the national anthem as part of an ongoing protest over police brutality.

Trump has railed against the NFL and the players who have protested, calling their act an insult to the country.


Former DHS secretaries Chertoff, Napolitano and Johnson warn Congress over ‘dreamers’ deadline

A woman holds up a sign in support of the Obama administration program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, during a rally outside the White House in August. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

A trio of bipartisan former Homeland Security secretaries is warning Congress that time is quickly running out for a legislative solution to protect nearly 700,000 young undocumented immigrants known as “dreamers” from possible deportation.

President Trump has set a March 5 deadline for Congress to act before the bulk of work permits provided under an Obama-era program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) begin to expire. The Trump administration announced the termination of the program in September, calling it unconstitutional because President Barack Obama established the program through executive authority to shield immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.

Now, Michael Chertoff, who headed the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush, and Janet Napolitano and Jeh Johnson, who served under Obama, are warning lawmakers that they must strike a deal this month or risk running out of time. Even if Congress were to act this month, they cautioned, it would mean a massive undertaking for DHS to be able to launch a new administrative program to accommodate dreamers who are eligible to seek permanent legal status.

“The realistic deadline for successfully establishing a Dreamers program in time to prevent large-scale loss of work authorization and deportation protection is only weeks away,” the former secretaries wrote in a two-page letter Wednesday.

The GOP is starting 2018 with a lofty legislative agenda. Here are ten of its top priorities this year. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

The letter comes as White House officials travel to Capitol Hill to meet with congressional leaders to continue negotiations over the fate of the DACA program and an impasse over the federal budget. Lawmakers face a Jan. 19 deadline to pass a spending resolution to keep the government open, and some are suggesting that a DACA fix should be included. But it’s not clear what conditions Trump, who has said a deal on the dreamers is predicated on building a border wall and curbing legal immigration, is demanding to support such an agreement.

Napolitano was the architect of DACA, bringing the concept to the Obama White House in early 2012 as she sought ways to streamline an ever-growing backlog of immigration cases. Under the program, which Obama announced in June of that year, those who meet the criteria are provided renewable, two-year work permits allowing them to remain in the country without fear of deportation.

In 2015, Obama and Johnson attempted to create a similar program for millions of undocumented immigrants whose children are U.S. citizens, but a federal judge in Texas blocked it after Texas and 25 other states sued, calling it unconstitutional.

In their letter, the former Homeland Security secretaries noted that it took DHS 90 days to create the initial DACA program and that a 45-day timeline between mid-January and the March 5 deadline set by Trump would be a tight window for the agency to create a new administrative program.

Such a shortened timeline “is very aggressive, but should be seen as an actual best-case deadline based on our collective experience with these administrative and security requirements,” they wrote.


Lawyer claims donations fall far short of high costs of defamation suit against Trump

Summer Zervos, a former contestant on “The Apprentice,” said on Jan. 17 that she has filed a defamation lawsuit against President-elect Donald Trump. (Reuters)

Facing questions about how a defamation suit against President Trump is being funded, a lawyer for plaintiff Summer R. Zervos has issued a statement saying that the Internet fundraising appeal she has hosted on her website has brought in only a fraction of what it will take to pursue the case.

“To date the fund has received donations of just under $30,000,” wrote prominent women’s rights lawyer Gloria Allred in a statement published Sunday on her Facebook page.

“We anticipate that the costs alone in this case will be hundreds of thousands of dollars,” wrote Allred, who said that she is not charging any fees for her own legal work, that neither of the two law firms involved in the case has been paid fees, and that “the donated funds have not and will not be used to personally benefit Ms. Zervos in any way.”

The statement comes as the #metoo movement continues to roil the spheres of show business, media and politics, and in the immediate wake of an article published in the Hill alleging that Allred’s daughter, Lisa Bloom, “sought to arrange compensation from donors and tabloid media outlets for women who made or considered making sexual misconduct allegations against Donald Trump.”

Bloom responded in a statement, saying, “This is just the latest effort to try and discredit my clients and me.” Few law firms, Bloom said, are willing to represent women who come forward with allegations against powerful men. “Why? Because it is not only very challenging work, where lawyers will immediately be subjected to frequent threats of violence and waves of hate, but because it’s an economic challenge to keep the doors open for business in a civil rights firm.”

The Bloom Firm is separate from Allred’s law firm, Allred, Maroko and Goldberg.

In the immediate run-up to the 2016 presidential election, Bloom said, her firm received unexpected offers of financial support after an unnamed Trump accuser backed out of a planned news conference after receiving “multiple death and rape threats.”

Bloom said many donors then reached out “with offers to ensure the safety of women who might still come forward.”

On Monday, the New York Times published an article saying the movement has become politicized, with activists across the political spectrum offering to help support cases that might bring down a rival. “Political partisans are exploiting the moment, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to support accusers who come forward with charges against President Trump and members of Congress, even amid questions about their motivation,” wrote Ken Vogel.

Zervos is one of more than a dozen women who have accused Trump of inappropriate sexual behavior. In the wake of the October 2016 release of the Access Hollywood video, in which Trump bragged about grabbing women by the genitals, Zervos alleged that in December 2007, Trump kissed her forcibly and thrust his genitals in an encounter at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Trump immediately denied the allegations and subsequently called his accusers “liars.”

In January, shortly before Trump’s inauguration, Zervos filed a defamation suit against him. Trump’s lawyers filed a motion to dismiss the case, which is being brought in a state court. A New York judge is expected to rule soon on whether the case can proceed.

In a telephone interview Tuesday, Allred declined to comment on funding strategies employed by other law firms, and said this was the first time she had sought financial support for the victim of alleged sexual misconduct.

“I’ve been doing sexual harassment cases for 42 years, and we have never sought funding for any of those cases,” Allred said. “In the thousands of victims, we have never sought funding, public or private,” she said.

The reason for the change, Allred said, is “because we’ve never sued the president of the United States previously.”


Trump to North Korean leader Kim: My ‘Nuclear Button’ is ‘much bigger & more powerful’

President Trump speaks during a Cabinet meeting at the White House on Dec. 20, 2017. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

President Trump escalated his war of words with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesday evening, asserting that his “nuclear button” is “much bigger & more powerful” than the North Korean leader’s and threatening that the U.S. arsenal “works.”

Trump was responding to Kim’s annual New Year’s Day speech on Monday, during which the North Korean leader boasted that the United States is “within the range of our nuclear strike and a nuclear button is always on the desk of my office.”

Trump said in his Tuesday tweet, “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.’ Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2018

The exchange represents a ratcheting up of rhetoric, after Trump in recent months had adopted a measured approach to North Korea — relative to last summer, when he warned of “fire and fury” — at the urging of his national security team.

Earlier Tuesday, however, Trump revived his derisive nickname for Kim — “rocket man” — in response to signs of relaxed tensions between South Korea and North Korea. South Korea agreed to an offer from North Korea for the two countries to talk ahead of next month’s Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. Kim said in his Monday address that he was willing to send a delegation of North Korean athletes to the Olympics.

North Korean leader Kim Jong had warned Jan. 1 that he had a nuclear button on his desk and that the entire United States was within range of his weapons — but he also vowed not to attack unless threatened. (Reuters)

In his Tuesday tweet, Trump wrote: “Sanctions and ‘other’ pressures are beginning to have a big impact on North Korea. Soldiers are dangerously fleeing to South Korea. Rocket man now wants to talk to South Korea for first time. Perhaps that is good news, perhaps not — we will see!”

Sanctions and “other” pressures are beginning to have a big impact on North Korea. Soldiers are dangerously fleeing to South Korea. Rocket man now wants to talk to South Korea for first time. Perhaps that is good news, perhaps not – we will see!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2018

Trump’s North Korea comments came on a busy day of tweeting for the president, who called for the Justice Department to prosecute and perhaps jail Hillary Clinton adviser Huma Abedin and former FBI director James B. Comey; threatened to strip funding for the Palestinians; encouraged protesters in Iran; took credit for the safety record of commercial airlines; and attacked the news media.


Trump urges Justice Department to ‘act’ on Comey, suggests Huma Abedin should face jail time

In an interview with the New York Times last week, Trump asserted that he has the “absolute right to do what I want with the Justice Department.” (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

President Trump on Tuesday appeared to suggest that Huma Abedin, a former top aide to Hillary Clinton, should face jail time, days after the State Department posted emails found on her estranged husband’s computer that included confidential government information.

In a tweet, Trump also urged the Justice Department to act in prosecuting Abedin and former FBI director James B. Comey, whom the president fired in May amid the mounting investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election and contacts between Moscow and Trump’s campaign.

Crooked Hillary Clinton’s top aid, Huma Abedin, has been accused of disregarding basic security protocols. She put Classified Passwords into the hands of foreign agents. Remember sailors pictures on submarine? Jail! Deep State Justice Dept must finally act? Also on Comey & others

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2018

The president’s tweet comes just days after the State Department posted online thousands of Abedin’s emails, which were captured on the computer of Anthony Weiner, her estranged husband.

Those emails — some of which contained classified information — spurred the FBI in October to reopen its investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, although the bureau would ultimately conclude that the messages gave them no reason to change their conclusion not to recommend charges against Clinton or any of her aides.

The tweet also follows a Daily Caller report that Abedin had “forwarded sensitive State Department emails, including passwords to government systems, to her personal Yahoo email account.”

President Trump mounts increasing pressure on the Justice Department to investigate his former campaign rival Hillary Clinton, criticisms that have grown amid the charges against Trump’s three campaign officials. (Joyce Koh/TWP)

Comey had said, even as he recommended they not be charged, that Clinton and her aides were “extremely careless” in their handling of classified information, and the president’s tweet seizes on that theme. Comey has said, too, that while the FBI did not find evidence that Clinton’s personal email domain was hacked, it would not be likely to see such evidence, given those who might make such attacks, and that hostile actors had gained access to the private commercial email accounts of people with whom Clinton was in contact.

Asked if Trump was urging the Justice Department to investigate Abedin, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders replied: “The facts of that case are very disturbing. The president wants to make clear that he doesn’t feel that anyone should be above the law. In terms of any investigation, that would be something the Department of Justice would need to decide.”

A Clinton spokesman did not reply to a request for comment. Dan Schwerin, a former Clinton campaign speechwriter, defended Abedin on Twitter.

[email protected] said it best back in 2012: Sliming Huma is an “unwarranted and unfounded attack on an honorable woman, a dedicated American, and a loyal public servant”

— Dan Schwerin (@DanSchwerin) January 2, 2018

Trump has long suggested that Clinton be prosecuted for her use of the private server and, while he backed off that sentiment soon after his election, he has renewed the calls in recent months as he has repeatedly attacked his own Justice Department.

His comment on the “sailors pictures” seems to be a reference to 30-year-old Kristian Saucier, who was sentenced to a year in prison for taking photos in a classified area of a nuclear submarine. Trump has previously compared that case to the Clinton email probe, suggesting that Clinton was given leniency that others weren’t. Saucier, though, tried to destroy evidence — which is a critical indication of bad intent that investigators found lacking in the Clinton case.

Trump has previously accused Comey of leaking sensitive information after the former director testified that he had asked a friend to pass on notes he had taken of his interactions with Trump to a reporter for the New York Times in hopes of securing a special prosecutor to take over the Russia investigation. Ethics experts said Comey’s actions appeared to be legally protected, provided he did not disclose classified information.

In his tweet, Trump referred to the “Deep State Justice Dept,” an apparent reference to the president’s contention that some elements of the U.S. intelligence apparatus have attempted to undermine his election. Trump has said there is no evidence that he colluded with Russian agents during the campaign.

Sanders said Trump “obviously” does not consider all members of the Justice Department to be among a “deep state” conspiracy to sabotage his presidency. She emphasized that Trump appointed Christopher A. Wray to run the FBI because the president “wants to change the culture of that agency and he thinks he’s the right person to do that.”

In a tweet, Sally Yates, the former acting Attorney General whom Trump fired in January after she refused to defend his travel ban on immigrants from some Muslim-majority countries, accused the president of slandering Justice Department employees and called his pronouncements “dangerous.”

POTUS on 12/28: “I have the absolute right to do what I want with the Justice Department.” Today he slanders career DOJ professionals as “deep state,” calls for prison for a political opponent, and tries to sic DOJ on a potential witness against him. Beyond abnormal; dangerous.

— Sally Yates (@SallyQYates) January 2, 2018

After Comey was ousted, the Justice Department appointed special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is handling the ongoing investigation and brought charges against former Trump aides, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

While leaders at the Justice Department answer to Trump, that institution has traditionally enjoyed a measure of independence from the president — especially when it comes to particular criminal investigations. A president meddling in such investigations and suggesting that someone working for a former political rival face “Jail!” is considered a serious breach of normal protocol; even former attorney general Michael Mukasey, a frequent Clinton critic, said Trump’s campaign-trail idea to have a special prosecutor reinvestigate and jail Clinton “would be like a banana republic.”

In an interview with the New York Times last week, Trump asserted that he has the “absolute right to do what I want with the Justice Department.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom Trump criticized for recusing himself in the Russia probe given his own contact with Russian officials while serving as a surrogate for Trump during the campaign, has been somewhat sympathetic to GOP legislators who want matters they consider troubling to be investigated, including alleged wrongdoing by the Clinton Foundation and the controversial sale of a uranium company to Russia.

Late last year, Sessions directed senior federal prosecutors to explore at least some of the matters and report back to him and his top deputy. The Justice Department’s inspector general is also investigating the handling of the Clinton email investigation.

Asked to comment on the president’s tweet, Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said she could not “confirm or deny the existence of any ongoing investigations.”