Trump and top Republicans vow ‘bold agenda’ and overhaul of immigration
CAMP DAVID: Trump and top Republicans vow ‘bold agenda’ and overhaul of immigration
CAMP DAVID: US President Donald Trump staged a show of unity Saturday with Republican leaders and key cabinet members, insisting they were making “incredible” progress on a 2018 agenda and branding as a “disgrace” an incendiary book questioning his fitness for office.
Standing in a frigid hangar at a hastily convened news conference at the Camp David presidential retreat, Maryland, Trump said Republicans were “very well-prepared for the coming year” after a “very strong” finish to 2017.
He praised the “incredible meetings” at Camp David, where the Republicans discussed security, military, budget and immigration issues, among other topics.
Trump was joined for two days of talks with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan and other top Republicans to sketch out a legislative agenda during a year in which they will battle to keep the US Congress in Republican control in November elections.
As Republican leaders took turns at the microphone to deliver pep talks, House speaker Paul Ryan promised a “very bold agenda for 2018,” saying it would appeal to “Democrats and Republicans and independents.”
Meanwhile, Trump said he won’t sign legislation protecting hundreds of thousands of young people brought to the country illegally as children unless Congress agrees to overhaul the legal immigration system, as well as infrastructure spending but that welfare reform may have to wait for later.
Trump added that any deal must include an overhaul of the family-based immigration system as well as an end to the diversity visa lottery, which draws immigrants from under-represented parts of a world.
That’s in addition to funding for his promised southern border wall and added border security.
Trump says he thinks Democrats will be on board with the plan, despite their concerns.
Trump has given Congress until March to come up with legislation to protect hundreds of thousands of young people who had been shielded from deportation and given the right to work in the country under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Trump says, “we all want DACA to happen, but we also want great security for our country.”
During the meeting with congressional leaders, Trump also said he’s done campaigning for insurgents challenging incumbent Republican members of Congress.
Trump told reporters that he’s planning a robust schedule of campaigning ahead of the 2018 midterm elections — including primary elections.
Trump says he’ll be “very involved” with both House and Senate races, and will campaign for incumbents and “anybody else that has my kind of thinking.”
After a stinging GOP loss in Alabama, Trump says that he’s done supporting challengers, declaring: “I don’t see that happening.”
Trump had supported Roy Moore, who lost the recent Alabama special election, handing Democrats another seat in the Senate.
Trump says he needs more Republicans in office to get his agenda passed.
The meeting begin midmorning Saturday and touched on the budget, infrastructure, immigration, welfare reform and the shape of midterm elections this fall.
Trump also indicated he would “absolutely” be willing to talk on the phone to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and that he hopes a positive development results from talks between North Korea and South Korea.
North Korea agreed on Friday to hold official talks with South Korea next week, the first in more than two years, hours after Washington and Seoul delayed a military exercise amid a standoff over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.
Answering questions from reporters at the presidential retreat, Trump expressed a willingness to talk to Kim but not without preconditions.
Trump and Kim have exchanged insults ever since Trump took office, with Trump repeatedly calling Kim “rocket man” for testing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
Nonetheless, Republicans are eager to add to the victory they achieved late last year with the overhaul of the nation’s tax code. But that drive also put off other issues, among them funding the federal government. In just two weeks another funding deadline awaits, and Republican and Democratic lawmakers remain at odds over increasing spending for defense and non-defense agencies.
However, television networks and news websites had spent much of the morning focused on a more divisive topic — the new bombshell book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” by Michael Wolff — which raises questions about Trump’s intelligence, competence and stability.
Asked about it at Camp David, Trump said that “it’s a disgrace that somebody’s able to… do something like that” and suggested the United States needs stronger libel laws.
Trump early Saturday had fired off a series of tweets in which he called himself a “a very stable genius” and named his two greatest assets as “mental stability and being, like, really smart.”
“Fire and Fury” was rushed into stores on Friday after the Trump administration failed to suppress it.
The book quickly sold out in Washington and has been the talk of the town.