The meeting also raised issues about whether Trump wanted to favor immigration for countries such as Denmark over Haiti and elsewhere. The whole controversy, coupled with prior Trump statements dealing with race, ethnicity, crime and terror have raised the question whether Trump is a bigot. Unfortunately, it has also resulted in certain South American and African nations reacting negatively towards the United States out of their concerns that Trump has insulted them by his cussing and by his statements urging the immigration of whites rather than non-whites.
A transcript of Durbin’s questioning is below. Interestingly, the Secretary said she could not remember the specific cuss word(s) in controversy. However, not surprisingly, she recalled many of the other minute details including US Senator Lindsey Graham's own use of certain curse words during the meeting.
Durbin took issue with her categorization of Graham’s comments to the president. Durbin said Graham was only repeating the actual words used by the President.
Thus, Nielson recalled Senator Graham’s use of those curse words when challenging the President's statements and policies, but, for some reason, she could provide no specifics about the President preceding statements which precipitated Graham's harsh and direct response to Trump. Nor could she provide any details about Trump's comments about Africa and elsewhere,
Indeed cursing or cussing in a White House oval office is not a critical issue. However, credibility is. At least, it is according to President Trump. In one of his recent tweets, referring to Durbin:
“Senator Dicky Durbin totally misrepresented what was said at the DACA meeting. Deals can’t get made when there is no trust! Durbin blew DACA and is hurting our Military.”
Earlier during the course of the controversy, Trump also tweeted, “The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made - a big setback for DACA!
Put aside the debate over the merits of DACA, merit-based immigration, the Wall, lottery, chain migration. Indeed, the United States needs a holistic approach to its immigration policies which might include merit-based immigration and even in some parts of the country, a wall. But, as Trump so succinctly stated, trust is an issue.
Which raises the ultimate of questions--why should America trust this President and his administration on this issue perhaps others? After all, Secretary of Homeland Security selective memory is as obvious as those of Republican Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue. Both, after the controversy broke said they could not recall what President Trump had said at this Thursday meeting. Then, as quick as Saturday becomes Sunday, their memories somehow became much more vivid regarding the facts.
During the Durbin’s questioning today, the Senator pointed out that the President in a televised meeting last week eemed to agree that he wanted to do DACA first, separate from the other parts of immigration reform. Republican Lindsey Graham today made it clear that something had changed with the President and DACA issue between 10 am and 12 noon, Thursday morning, prior to the discussion in question in the oval office. The Senator said that suddenly, the President, who said he would sign whatever Congress would bring to him demanded the funding for his wall be tied to the DACA funding.
Graham further said during today’s Senate hearing, “So Tuesday, we had a president that I was proud to golf with, call my friend, who understood immigration had to be bipartisan,” Graham said during the hearing with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. “But he understood the idea that we have to do it with compassion. I don’t know where that guy went. I want him back.”
Donald Trump talks about the need for this country to have trust in the participants. However, judging from the President's refusal to admit what he said at the meeting and judging from Cotton and Perdue's sudden Sunday morning flip-flop, Trump should heed his own warnings--"Deals can’t get made when there is no trust! " .
DURBIN: Forgiveness but recall it last minute to come in to attend. Some things were said at that meeting, which I believe we have to address today. People across the United States and around the world want to know what this President believes should be our priorities when it comes to immigration, I'm can ask you, as best, can to recall what you heard the President's say when it came to those priorities. What do you remember the President's saying about immigration from African countries to the United States?
SECRETARY: What I heard him saying was that he'd like to move away from a country based quota system to a merit based system so it shouldn't matter where you're from, it should matter what you can contribute to the United States.
DURBIN: How did he characterize those countries in Africa.
SECRETARY: I don't specifically remember categorization of countries in Africa. I think what he was saying is, far as best I could tell, is--you know, there were about a dozen people in the room. There were a lot of cross conversations. There was a lot of rough talk by a lot of people in the room, but what I understood him to be saying-- Is “Let's move away from the countries and let's look at the individual and make sure that those we bring here can contribute to our society?”
DUBIN: Do you remember the President's saying I want more Europeans? Why can't we have more immigrants from Norway?
SECRETARY: I do remember what he-- I do remember him asking about the concept of under- represented countries as a fix. This is in the conversation about removing the diversity lottery and how we could allocate that- and I do remember him asking, if we do that and we then assign those two countries that are represented. We just continuing not on merit based immigration. So from that perspective, I think he did ask would that cover European countries or by its nature will that mean that we are further establishing immigration to purposely exclude Europeans?
DURBIN: What did the President say about immigrants from Norway?
SECRETARY: I heard him repeating what he had learned in a meeting before that they are industrious, that their hard working country- they don't have much crime there. They don't have much debt. I think in general I heard him just giving compliments to Norway.
DURBIN: You said on Fox News, "The President used strong language. What was that strong language?
SECRETARY: Let's see strong language, there was--uh--apologies, I don't remember specific word what I was struck with frankly, I'm sure you are as well, was just the general profanity that was used in the room by almost everyone
DURBIN: Did you hear me use profanity?
SECRETARY: No sir. Neither did I.
DURBIN: Did you hear Senator Graham used profanity?
SECRETARY: I did hear tough language from senator yes air.
DURBIN: What did he say?
SECRETARY: He used tough language. He was impassioned. I think he was feeling very strongly about the issue, as was everyone in the room and to underscore a point, I think he was using some strong language.
DURBIN: Do you recall the strong language he used--repeated exactly what the President had said prior to that?
SECRETARY: I, ah, remember specific cuss words being used by a variety of members.
DURBIN: I'm not going ask to say those words here, but I will just say for the record--Senator Graham spoke up in a way I respect, very much countering with the President had said about countries in Africa--reminding the President, that his family did not come to America with great skills or wealth, but the came here as most families do looking for a chance to prove themselves and make this nation, and in defense of Senator Graham, his strong words repeated exactly the word used by the President, which you cannot not remember.
DURBIN: Let me ask you another .
SECRETARY: If I sir, I do want to say that I greatly appreciate not only Senator Graham's leadership but yours as well. I know you're both very passionate about this, as you know afterwards, I approached you and ask that I'm happy to come talk to any time to try to work on this deal. I do think that Senator Graham very passionately described with he believes america's about and what we should move towards. Yes, I agree with that.
DURBIN: Do you support a pass to citizenship for DACA recipients and those who are in the Dream Act?
SECRETARY: I think we have to find a permanent solution. Yes, sir.
DURBIN: I hate that for permanent solution. Do you support a path to citizenship?
SECRETARY: I believe that as part of the discussion and to make sure that we don't continue temporary populations to continue to exist, we should talk about that. I'm not here get in front of the president and or any final decisions on that particular issue. But yes, I'm happy to discuss it.
DURBIN: You recall the president saying that he wanted twenty billion dollars now and he would build this wall within one year?
SECRETARY: I do remember him saying that he was concerned that, given the appropriations cycle that any deal that we made now would be limited to this year's appropriation. I remember him asking is her way to authorize the full downpayment of the wall--such that we could have assurances that we could in fact build it.
DURBIN: So, let's take a look at what your department has done when it comes to building the walls. Does December 6, 2017, less than one percent of the 341 million dollars appropriated for forty miles for replacement funding had been expended. Actual construction has yet to begin on money appropriated in the last fiscal year. So is the president realistic when he says he wants twenty billion, so he can build the wall in one year?
SECRETARY: I think the president is encouraging us to go as quickly as we can as you know, it's a very complicated issue. Building a wall for a whole variety, whole variety of reasons. What we're doing right now is we are testing evaluating this prototypes and will continue to determine not only the design but what's best per some of the other senators comments for any particular part of the border, because it will be different. We need a full tool kit.
DURBIN: Madam Secretary, the President made it clear in that meeting, that one of the conditions for his ascent or agreement to protect DACA was twenty billion dollars so he could build this wall in one year. The fate of John and Alejandra lies in the balance here. The President is insisting on something that is physically legally impossible, as a condition for him to give them a chance to be in the United States legally. Now, you've seen because your comment about it Fox News: the proposal which Senator Graham and I, as well as four other senators made on a bipartisan basis and you've rejected it. You said at one point I believe, but let me see a quote here--"there's nothing there that would prevent us from getting here again”. Are you aware the fact that included in this proposal is the entire request of the administration for border security in this this fiscal year? One point six billion dollars for walls, barriers and fences that another billion dollars for technology, exactly what you ask for? If you don't believe this is going to solve the problem, which is what you said on Fox News, why did the administration request it in the first place?
SECRETARY: Well sir, that's not that's not all we requested as you know, we also requested to close the loopholes that serve as the pull factors that continue to exacerbated the problem. I cannot apprehend, if I cannot remove. That's not border security
DURBIN: Let me add, the first meeting we had last week we agreed and the president agreed there will be two phases to this conversation. The first immediately to deal with the DACA challenge and the three other elements the president
SECRETARY:Including border security, Sir
DURBIN: Including border security every penny that you asked for then the president said, phase two goes into comprehensive immigration reform. Many of the issues which you described as must haves. We understand that--to put the entire burden of immigration reform on the shoulders of these DACA recipients is fundamentally unfair, not practical and jeopardizing their future in their lives. What we're we're trying to do is an honest bipartisan approach to deal with the first phase of this, and you have rejected it.
SECRETARY: I thank you for your passion. I hope you understand mine. I cannot agree to a deal that does not get the tools and resources to the men, women of the department, of homeland security to do the job you've asked them to do.
DURBIN: We gave you every penny you asked for
SECRETARY: Sir, it's not the pennies, it's closing the loopholes.
DURBIN: Can we cut back on this money because we could sure use it ?
SECRETARY: We need the wall too, the wall works. As you know, it's part of border security. Thank you Mr. Chairman.