To people who are not Trump supporters, he’s a guy who makes up stuff, comes across as a troll on Twitter, and may even be a little crazy.
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But Tuesday at the White House, we got a glimpse of the non-Twitter president.
He invited Democrats and Republicans to discuss fixing the DACA program to protect the hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought here illegally as kids.
The cameras came in for the usual pre-meeting photo-op, but then, instead of chasing reporters out after five minutes, he let the cameras roll for almost an hour, during which an actual negotiation broke out.
What you saw was a president eager to make a deal and, perhaps, also eager to prove that the White House is not the chaotic place depicted in Michael Wolff’s book.
At one point, Democrat Dianne Feinstein sensed this was the real thing, so she decided to go for it. She said, “let’s just fix the DACA program first – and then decide what to do about the wall.” Which is exactly what Republicans don’t want, because they don’t think the Democrats will follow through on the wall.
But the President was ready to go for it, causing a moment of panic when Republican Kevin McCarthy realized he was serious.
Here’s how it went:
“What about a clean DACA bill now with a commitment that we then go into comprehensive immigration reform…”
“We are going to do DACA, and then we then we can start immediately on the Phase 2 which would be comprehensive immigration — I would like that…
“Mr. President, you need to be clear though. I think what Senator Feinstein’s asking here — when we talk about just DACA, we don’t want to be back here two years later. You have to have security, as the secretary would tell you.”
“I think that’s what she’s saying…”
“No. No. No.”
“No, I think she is saying something different.”
The president did agree with the idea of just fixing DACA first. He did make a strong pitch for the wall and has since tweeted that the wall must happen. But at the meeting, he indicated he was willing to bend on that too.
“I am very much reliant on the people in this room. I know most of the people on both sides, I have a lot of respect for the people on both sides, and what I approve is going to be very much reliant on what the people in this room come to me with. I have great confidence. If they come to me with things that I’m not in love with, I’m going to do it, because I respect them.”
He said he would sign whatever this bi-partisan group comes up with. Now, of course, that’s what he said Tuesday.
Tomorrow, who knows?
But I think he was sending a message: Donald Trump is not crazy, and not only that, he may be actually be going after Democratic votes.
He was even nice to the news media.
“I hope we gave you enough material. This should cover you for about two weeks.”
It’s amazing what can happen when there’s no Steve Bannon perched on your shoulder.