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White House denies report of immigrant roundup plan

The White House said the AP's report about

The White House said the AP's report about the National Guard was not true on Feb. 17, 2017. Credit: Getty Images / Alex Wong

The White House on Friday denied it intended to implement a proposal to mobilize as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up millions of unauthorized immigrants in the United States, as discussed in a draft memo obtained by The Associated Press.

Department of Homeland Security staffers told the AP that there had been discussions as recently as a week ago about the Jan. 25 memo, which proposed guidance for implementing the immigration and border security executive orders that President Donald Trump had issued that day.

The proposal would have offered governors the option to activate the National Guard for a roundup in the Mexico-bordering states of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, and their neighboring states of Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

Trump, who on Friday spoke about job creation at the unveiling of Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner aircraft at its plant in North Charleston, South Carolina, before heading to Mar-a-Lago in Florida, did not mention the proposal.

But Trump spokesman Sean Spicer on Friday said the memo was “not a White House document” and that there was “no effort at all to utilize the National Guard to round up unauthorized immigrants.”

Later, Sarah Sanders, a deputy White House spokeswoman, said she did not know who wrote the memo, but said it wasn’t written by or done at the direction of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. The AP reported the memo bears Kelly’s name.

A DHS official described the document as a very early draft that was not seriously considered and never brought to the secretary for approval. The AP said it tried but failed to get a response from the White House beginning Thursday and from DHS early Friday.

Trump left Washington on Friday for two campaign-style events a day after his marathon news conference to rebut reports that his administration is in chaos.

In his fourth week in office, Trump faced several setbacks.

He fired his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, for misleading Vice President Mike Pence, and he was turned down by retired Vice Adm. Robert Harward to replace Flynn. He faced leaks about his campaign having multiple contacts with Russian officials. And Trump saw the withdrawal of his labor secretary nominee, fast-food executive Andrew Puzder.

As if seeking a reset, Trump returned to a key campaign theme during his visit to the Boeing plant on Friday.

“I am going to do everything I can to unleash the power of the American spirit and to put our great people back to work,” he said. “This is our mantra: Buy American and hire American.”

On Saturday, Trump will appear at an early evening campaign-style rally at an airplane hangar in Melbourne, Florida — an event that is expected to draw a full crowd.

“President Trump, just as he did so effectively throughout the campaign, is going to continue taking his message directly to the American people,” Sanders said.

At Mar-a-Lago this weekend, Trump may meet with the four candidates he tweeted he has for national security adviser. They include Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, the acting national security adviser, who accompanied Trump on his trip.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), in a panel discussion at the Munich Security Conference in Germany, praised Trump’s national security team. But in response to a question, he said: “The Flynn issue obviously shows that in many respects this administration is in disarray and has work to do.”

Meanwhile, Trump is expected to name Republican political media consultant Mike Dubke — the founder of the Crossroads Media firm — as White House communications director, according to media reports.

Spicer so far has been handling both the daily news briefing and overall communications strategy. Dubke would take on the job of planning how to advance Trump’s message.

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