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Long IslandPolitics

Suddenly Trump says he’s all up for a shutdown

President Donald Trump talks about the MS-13 street

President Donald Trump talks about the MS-13 street gang during a roundtable discussion with law enforcement officials and members of Congress at the White House on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018. Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images / Mandel Ngan

His closing argument

It didn’t work out well for the Democrats when they forced the last government shutdown, way back in the second half of January, to push for immediate action preserving DACA.

Now President Donald Trump, who won that round, said he’d be fine with a shutdown if Democrats don’t give in to his immigration and border security demands, reports Newsday’s Tom Brune.

“I’d love to see a shutdown if we don’t get this stuff taken care of,” Trump said. “If we have to shut it down because the Democrats don’t want safety . . . let’s shut it down.”

It may be more bluster than threat. It’s hard to be sure.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said they were close to a two-year spending deal with a military spending boost that Trump wants, as well as an increase in the nondefense programs favored by Democrats.

They would deal with immigration issues after averting a shutdown, which otherwise could occur Thursday night. Despite Trump’s threat, press secretary Sarah Huckabee signaled the White House would go along with that.

Danger across the border

Trump’s shutdown remarks came as he hosted a meeting on combating the deadly MS-13 gang. Long Island’s two Republican congressmen, Peter King and Lee Zeldin, were among two dozen officials at the roundtable discussion.

“We don’t have the wall, we’re never going to solve this problem,” Trump told the gathering, reports Newsday’s Laura Figueroa Hernandez.

Earlier, a morning tweet noted the death of Indianapolis Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson in a crash involving an accused drunken driver who had been deported twice and returned illegally.

“So disgraceful that a person illegally in our country killed @Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson,” Trump tweeted. “This is just one of many such preventable tragedies.”

DACA in doubt

Schumer is under pressure from progressive activists to hold firm on securing a deal for the Dreamers after failing to do so during the January shutdown, reports Newsday’s Emily Ngo and Matthew Chayes.

White House chief of staff John Kelly presented Trump’s offer to extend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to up to 1.8 million people — in exchange for the wall and new legal immigration restrictions — as generous “beyond what anyone could have imagined.”

The Trump plan would cover hundreds of thousands who were eligible for DACA protections but didn’t sign up because, Kelly said, they were “too afraid” or “too lazy.”

That remark rankled immigrant advocates. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), a leader of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, shot back: “Dreamers are some of the hardest workers I know.

Janison: The incredible president

Believe what Trump says? It’s at your peril and perhaps his, too.

For months before Monday’s Wall Street pratfall, he invested a lot of credibility in taking bows for the market’s rise. Now many of his lawyers — mindful of his history for credibility — are warning him against submitting to questions from special counsel Robert Mueller.

See Dan Janison’s column for Newsday.

The king of comedy

Trump’s press shop says he was “clearly joking” when he suggested congressional Democrats may have committed “treason” by not applauding his State of the Union speech.

Treason — the gravest crime of crimes against one’s homeland, an offense punishable by death — is an unusual word for a fun-poking punchline.

Then again, Trump aides went to the he’s-just-kidding spin after other inflammatory remarks, like suggesting cops bang the heads of criminal suspects when loading them into cars or asking the Russians to find Hillary Clinton’s missing emails.

Trump also called the Democrats who didn’t stand and cheer during last week’s speech “un-American” and said “they certainly didn’t seem to love our country very much.” His press aides didn’t walk that back.

“It seems as if the Democrats put their personal hatred for this president over their desires to see this country succeed,” spokesman Hogan Gidley said.

What else is happening:

  • Trump has ordered the Pentagon to organize a grand military parade with troops and tanks in the nation’s capital, The Washington Post reports. He’s wanted one since he saw last year’s Bastille Day celebration in Paris and told French President Emmanuel Macron: “We’re going to have to try to top it.”
  • Vice President Mike Pence said he is prepared to announce the toughest sanctions yet on North Korea. 
  • Trump’s job approval has edged up to 40 percent in the latest Gallup poll — mainly because of stronger numbers among Republicans while independents and Democrats’ views were unchanged. Disapproval was at 57 percent.
  • Trump’s proposal to cut legal immigration rates would delay the date that white Americans become a minority of the population by one to five years, according to a Washington Post analysis. The current Census Bureau projection is 2044.
  • Though Trump pledged to bring down the nation’s trade deficit, it’s getting bigger. The Commerce Department reported the gap rose 12 percent to $566 billion last year, the biggest since 2008.
  • Trump met with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to discuss the classified memo that Democrats want to release to rebut the GOP allegations that the FBI abused its spying powers in the Russia investigation.
  • Russia is gaining influence over Libya while the United States maintains an incoherent policy there.
  • The federal judge who Trump denounced as biased because of his Mexican heritage while presiding over a lawsuit against Trump University has a new case of interest to the president. Judge Gonzalo Curiel will hear a suit against waiving environmental laws to make way for Trump’s border wall.

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