Fox TV commentator Sean Hannity with Donald Trump (Ethan Miller/Getty)
The White House tries to calm angry hard-right commentators — including friends of Donald Trump — after Trump’s retreat over his Wall with Mexico.
Trump’s 35-day record-setting shutdown of the Federal Government ended on January 25 without a penny of the $5.7 billion that he demanded for the $25 billion Wall. This week, Republican and Democrat negotiators in Congress agreed a proposal for $1.375 billion for enhanced fencing — but nothing for the Wall — as well as funds for other border security measures.
Falsifying developments, Trump insisted at a rally on Tuesday that the legislators gave him what he wanted, including the “big, beautiful” Wall. But the proposal, to be considered by the full House and Senate before Friday’s deadline to renew Government funding, offers less than the $1.6 billion for fencing adopted last summer — a measure rejected by Trump.
Trump indicated on Wednesday that he would sign the bill just before the deadline, while talking vaguely — in what is likely an empty declaration — that he would add provisions. He added his ongoing threat of taking money from Government agencies, notably the military, for The Wall and the announcement of a national emergency.
That threat is an apparent bluff. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned Trump almost two weeks ago that Republican legislators will oppose any emergency declaration.
So the White House followed up with calls to the Fox TV polemicists Lou Dobbs and Sean Hannity, a regular confidant of Trump. The message was that Trump deserved support because — in another false statement — he had forced concessions through the Trump Shutdown.
The outreach has been led by Bill Shine, the White House Deputy Chief of Staff who is a former Fox executive.
Republican conservatives were not convinced. Rep. Mark Meadows, the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, said the agreement is “a bad deal for the President”: “Only in Washington, D.C., can we start out with needing $25 billion for border security measures and expect applause at $1.37 [billion]. I mean, only in D.C. is that a winning deal.”
Meeting members of his Freedom Caucus in the Oval Office, the White House urged them to exercise restraint in television interviews over the funding proposal.
Meadows gave Trump a lifeline by distancing him from criticism, “I think he handled it as well as anybody could handle it, given a dysfunctional Congress.”
However, the hard-right site Breitbart does not spare Trump this morning, headlining, “Trump’s Hint to Increase Legal Immigration, Automation Dooms American Workers”.
Hannity refrained from any attack, but Ann Coulter sneered via Twitter:
So is the Second Coming. https://t.co/UxZZkS33F8
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) February 13, 2019