White House Chief of Staff Calls Trump’s Campaign Wall Promises ‘Uninformed’
Posted January 17, 2018 6:44 p.m. EST
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s chief of staff on Wednesday told a group of Democratic lawmakers that Trump’s campaign promise to build a wall along the Mexican border was “not fully informed,” and that the president has “evolved” on the issue of immigration, participants in the meeting said.
The chief of staff, John F. Kelly, met with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, as a group known as the “Twos” — the Number Two Democrat and Republican in both the House and Senate — worked toward negotiating a deal to protect the young unauthorized immigrants known as “Dreamers” from deportation.
About 780,000 young people are protected by an Obama-era initiative, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, but Trump has rescinded the program and given lawmakers until early March to come up with a replacement.
Kelly told the lawmakers that “he was the one who tempered” Trump “on the issue of the wall, on the issue of DACA,” said Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., who attended the session, which was first reported by The Washington Post.
“He has basically got him to understand that a concrete wall from sea to shining sea along the southern border, that that was not going to happen for environmental, geological and other reasons, and that I think he has come to the point that he understands that barriers can mean many different things,” Grijalva said.
“He used the word ‘evolved,'” Grijalva said, adding that Kelly said Trump has “evolved, in the general context of the wall and DACA, and he said you make campaign promises; that’s different from governing.”
Two Democratic House aides who attended the meeting confirmed Grijalva’s account, as did Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez, D-Ill.
“I can confirm that Chief of Staff Kelly said today that the President’s campaign was not fully informed about the wall he was promising to voters,” Gutiérrez said in a statement. “Kelly went on to say that many campaigns are not fully informed about every policy and that campaigning and governing are two different things and that governing is harder. Kelly took credit for educating the President on the wall and that a concrete barrier from sea to shining sea was no longer the conception of border security barriers supported today by the White House.”