Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Tuesday afternoon made a plea to the Trump administration, calling on President Donald Trump and the secretary of homeland security to reset negotiations on immigration. Graham lamented that the debate over the issue had devolved into an “s-show.”
During a senate hearing with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Graham noted that early last week, Trump seemed open to a comprehensive deal to restore the protections in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program along with some measures to boost border security and change the legal immigration system. The President changed his tune on Thursday afternoon, however, when he reportedly made the infamous “shithole countries” remark in a meeting about a bipartisan DACA proposal.
Graham said that earlier in the week, Trump understood that he had to approach the DACA deal with “compassion.”
“Now, I don’t know where that guy went. I want him back,” Graham said.
Later, the senator noted that Trump was likely watching his televised remarks and asked Trump to call him.
“This has turned into an s-show and we need to get back to being a great country, where Democrats and Republicans will work together to do something that we should have done years ago,” Graham said.
Graham then pledged to help DACA recipients and include in any deal measures that change the immigration system. The senator called on Nielsen to help broker that deal.
After he left the hearing, Graham told reporters in the Capitol that Trump was not “well-served by his staff,” though he would not identify a specific administration aide. He then told reporters that he believes someone on Trump’s staff intervened between 10 a.m. on Thursday morning, when Sen. Dick Durbin (R-IL) called the President about a DACA deal, and noon on Thursday, when the actual meeting began. (Durbin and Graham arrived at the meeting to find two more conservative lawmakers, Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) also at the gathering.)
“I think somebody on his staff gave him really bad advice between 10 o’clock and 12 o’clock on Thursday. I think the president I saw on Tuesday is the guy I play golf with. I actually like the guy. He’s actually funny. I thought he commanded the room. And the conversation at 10 o’clock was pretty consistent. Something happened between 10 o’clock and 12 o’clock,” Graham told reporters.