Senate

Graham: ‘This has turned into a s-show’

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Tuesday negotiations to protect young immigrants enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program have turned into an “s-show” amid the fight over vulgar comments President Trump reportedly made in a White House meeting. 

Graham said it was clear that both President Trump and Democrats, particularly Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.), wanted to strike a deal, but that both sides would have to compromise to get there.

“This has turned into a ‘s-show’ and we need to get back to being a great country where Democrats and Republicans work together to do something that we should have done years ago,” Graham said at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing while questioning Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

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The South Carolina Republican said there appeared to be “two Trumps”: one who spoke with compassion at an initial meeting with lawmakers from both parties as cameras rolled; and the other who at a closed-door meeting rejected a bipartisan proposal later in the week while saying the U.S. shouldn’t accept more immigrants from “shithole countries.”

“So Tuesday, we had a president that I was proud to golf with, call my friend, who understood immigration had to be bipartisan, you had to have border security as essential, you have border security with a wall, but he also understood the idea that we had to do it with compassion,” Graham said.

“I don’t know where that guy went,” he added. “I want him back.”

At the closed-door meeting, Graham said: “The president ran hot.”

“And quite frankly, I got pretty passionate and I ran a little hot, too. Somebody needs to fix this problem,” he said.

Graham blamed Trump’s apparent shift on White House staff, saying in comments after his questions to Neilsen that someone in the White House “gave him really bad advice.”

But Graham also said lawmakers needed a more “reliable partner at the White House” if they hope to strike a deal on the program’s protections.

“What we need to do better is a reliable partner at the White House. Somebody like the president who showed up on Tuesday,” he said. “We cannot do this with people in charge at the White House who have an irrational view of how to fix immigration.”

At an initial meeting last week, Trump called for a “bill of love” to protect DACA recipients from deportation and voiced interest in a comprehensive immigration reform plan. 

But Trump rejected a tentative deal from a bipartisan Senate group Thursday and reportedly made incendiary remarks in an Oval Office meeting with lawmakers, in which he demanded to know why the U.S. should admit immigrants from “shithole countries,” like Haiti, over people from other countries, like Norway.

Tags DACA Dick Durbin Donald Trump Kirstjen Nielsen Lindsey Graham

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