President Donald Trump blamed Democrats for stalled immigration negotiations amid backlash over vulgar comments he made in the Oval Office while meeting with lawmakers this week.
“I don’t believe the Democrats really want to see a deal on DACA. They are all talk and no action,” Trump tweeted. “This is the time but, day by day, they are blowing the one great opportunity they have. Too bad!”
Trump preceded that message with a tweet that simply said: “America First!”
Democrats are demanding protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients in exchange for border security funding that could include money for Trump’s promised border wall.
This is not the first time Trump has sought to blame Democrats for the thorny debate over the immigration program, tweeting earlier this month that they were “doing nothing.”
But that assertion ignores the fact that the urgency in Congress to save DACA was created by his administration’s decision to end the program.
Negotiations over a deal on the DACA program, which has protected undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children from being deported, froze this week after Trump derided African nations as “shithole countries” and asked why more immigrants couldn’t come from Norway during a closed-door meeting with lawmakers to discuss a bipartisan immigration proposal.
Trump has denied making the remarks, but Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, who was at the White House meeting, said Friday that the President “said these hate-filled things and he said them repeatedly.”
South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who was also at the meeting, seemed to confirm that report in a statement in which he said “following comments by the President, I said my piece directly to him yesterday.”
Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton and Georgia Sen. David Perdue, Republicans who’ve been close allies to the President on the issue of immigration, were also in the meeting but issued a carefully worded statement after Trump tweeted Friday morning that the description of his remarks was not accurate.
“We do not recall the President saying these comments specifically, but what he did call out was the imbalance in our current immigration system, which does not protect American workers and our national interest,” the statement said.
Inside the White House, staffers were largely unfazed, even as the political and diplomatic fallout mounted.
Several lawmakers expressed disappointment and disgust, with Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona declaring the comments counter to the very “essence of American patriotism.”
And some of Trump’s allies, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, also expressed dismay.
“I read those comments later last night, the first thing that came to my mind was very unfortunate, unhelpful,” the Wisconsin Republican said Friday at the WisPolitics Luncheon in Milwaukee.
Globally, at least two American envoys overseas – in Haiti and Botswana – were summoned to explain the President’s remarks. The African Union, a group representing the continent’s 55 countries, issued a blistering statement saying the Trump had dishonored US values.