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MAGA-betrayal? Trump DACA dangle sends hardliners up the wall

President Trump speaks in the Cabinet Room of

President Trump speaks in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017. Photo Credit: AP / Alex Brandon

Base instinct: We’ve been had

Is there a deal coming on DACA? Yes. Absolutely. Almost. More or less. We’ll see.

President Donald Trump and his press office offered a dizzying, voluminous and often contradictory series of tweets and statements Thursday on the results of his meeting the evening before with Democratic leaders from Congress.

They seem to add up, approximately, to this: He’s agreeable to enshrining into law protections for immigrants brought here illegally as children. The legislation must have “extreme border security” measures.

And the wall? “The wall will come later,” he said. But not much later.

Trump left himself some wiggle room, but hard-core immigration foes who saw Trump as their champion wigged out.

“AMNESTY DON” cried a headline from Steve Bannon’s Breitbart News. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa.) tweeted that if the deal is real, “Trump base is blown up, destroyed, irreparable, and disillusioned beyond repair. No promise is credible.”

Ann Coulter, the far-right author of “In Trump We Trust,” fumed: “At this point, who DOESN’T want Trump impeached?” See Emily Ngo’s story for Newsday.

Onward Twitter soldiers

After a bomb went off early Friday on a packed London train, Trump tweeted some accustomed tough talk, as if to reassure his political base. A sampler:

"The travel ban into the United States should be far larger, tougher and more specific-but stupidly, that would not be politically correct!"

"Loser terrorists must be dealt with in a much tougher manner.The internet is their main recruitment tool which we must cut off & use better!"

"These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive!"

Questions Trump might be asked if he said it in a news conference: What information is available about any police oversight? What steps could be taken on the internet? Is there any sign this bomber came from abroad?

Deal with it

Opposition to the Dreamers is by no means universal among Trump supporters, and some of them applauded his move, including Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), a foe of hard-right and tea party Republicans.

“Memo to Freedom Caucus: Trump base is the American people not a small faction of obstructionists! Kudos to @POTUS Trump,” he tweeted.

Also still in Trump’s corner was former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, the grateful recipient of a Trump pardon of his conviction for defying a federal court order to stop racially profiling Latinos as a self-appointed enforcer of immigration laws.

He’d still like to make Dreamers go back to their countries of origin and apply for re-entry, but Arpaio told The Los Angeles Times, “Whatever final policy he supports, I’ll also support. He’s very intelligent. He cuts deals.”

Sympathy for the Dreamers

Trump seemed to chide people who wanted the Dreamers sent packing. He tweeted: “Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really! ... They have been in our country for many years through no fault of their own.”

Trump repeated that he’s against amnesty. Lindsay Walters, a White House spokeswoman, said, “What the Trump administration will discuss is a responsible path forward in immigration reform, that could include legal citizenship over a period of time.” The hard-liners call that amnesty.

The take-away: Immigrant song

If DACA 2.0 goes through, the young immigrants it protects may be better off than before. President Barack Obama’s executive order came under court challenge as a presidential overreach. An act of Congress solves that.

But much more about immigration policy remains to be resolved, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison, including the rules and numbers for legal immigration, the dispute over sanctuary cities, efforts to expel criminals such as MS-13 gang members, and, still, Trump’s border wall.

Keep swallowing that pride, Jeff

Trump called Attorney General Jeff Sessions an “idiot” to his face in May and demanded he resign, blaming him for the appointment of Russia investigation special counsel Robert Mueller, The New York Times reported.

But Trump relented. Sessions, while deeply humiliated, hung on because he saw a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to toughen immigration policies, the report said.

Trump let Sessions be the point man to announce the end of DACA on Sept. 5. Within hours, Trump started waffling, tweeting that Congress should “legalize DACA” and leaving Sessions twisting in the wind.

Not fake news

Trump had another surprise during a briefing in Florida on hurricane relief efforts — a hat tip to the news media for its coverage of the storms.

“Media, we appreciate you being so understanding,” Trump said. “It’s been a very tough period of time even for you folks, and we really do appreciate your understanding. This has been a difficult situation.”

Some things haven’t changed

Trump still has no second thoughts about assigning blame to “both sides” for the violence at a white nationalist-neo-Nazi gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia, last month.

Citing clashes since then involving far-left Antifa groups, Trump said, “a lot of people are saying and people have actually written, ‘Gee, Trump might have a point.’ ”

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), an African-American conservative upset by Trump’s views, who met with him Wednesday, said Trump is “who he has been” and it’s unrealistic to expect him to have an immediate “epiphany” regarding race from their conversation.

Said Trump: “We had a great talk.”

After Trump’s comments Thursday, Scott said, “Antifa is bad and should be condemned, but white supremacists have been killing and tormenting black Americans for centuries. There is no realistic comparison. Period.”

The fourth Trump-Clinton debate

It was just like 2016 on Twitter as Trump and Hillary Clinton traded snark.

Unable to hold his fire any longer about his vanquished opponent’s “What Happened” book tour, Trump tweeted, “Crooked Hillary Clinton blames everybody (and every thing) but herself for her election loss ... She spent big money but, in the end, had no game!”

Clinton replied with an image of her 1996 volume, “It Takes a Village,” and the message: “If you didn’t like that book, try this one — some good lessons in here about working together to solve problems. Happy to send a copy.”

What else is happening

  • A hot mic on the Senate floor caught Minority Leader Chuck Schumer recounting Wednesday’s White House dinner, saying of Trump: “He likes us. He likes me, anyway.” See Tom Brune’s story for Newsday.
  • Rep. Kathleen Rice of Garden City has been part of a Democratic faction urging replacement of Nancy Pelosi as House minority leader. But Pelosi’s gains bargaining with Trump won Rice’s praise. “I think this is a good start,” she told Politico.
  • Just as in Texas two weeks ago, Trump said the plastic gloves given to him for serving food to hurricane relief workers in Florida were too small for his hands. Which means the advance work setting up props for the events was either terrible or brilliant.
  • As Harvey and Irma bore down on Texas and Florida, Trump expressed awe at the historic size and power of the storms. Asked Thursday if he’s rethinking his skepticism on climate change, Trump replied: “Well, we’ve had bigger storms than this.”
  • Trump said he will go to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands in the next week or two to check in on Hurricane Irma relief efforts in the two U.S. territories.
  • Trump may have had his fill of Sean Spicer and Anthony Scaramucci, but TV can’t get enough of them. With Spicer in the guest chair, ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” won Wednesday’s late-night ratings duel. Scaramucci is lined up as a guest co-host Sept. 22 on “The View.”

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