The White House on Monday afternoon pushed back on a Sunday report in the New York Times that two top White House aides have overruled President Donald Trump as the administration negotiates with Congress on a deal to restore the protections from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
“Those charges are frankly ridiculous and they’re a little insulting,” White House spokesperson Raj Shah said on CNN when asked about reporting that Chief of Staff John Kelly and White House adviser Stephen Miller have intervened in the negotiations between Trump and congressional leaders.
The New York Times reported on Sunday that Kelly and Miller have intervened twice after Trump told congressional lawmakers that he was willing to strike a deal to restore DACA’s protections. Kelly and Miller would follow up with a list of demands favored by conservatives, like funding for the border wall and measures that change the legal immigration system, according to the New York Times.
Shah told CNN on Monday that Trump alone is setting the immigration agenda, and he cast Kelly and Miller as experienced advisers that the President consults on immigration policy.
“This is the President of the United States. He’s setting the agenda, these are his policy views and, frankly, exactly what he ran on for over a year and a half during the campaign. In the chief of staff, in Stephen Miller, you have people who are really experienced in this debate, bring great ideas,” Shah said on CNN. “If you look at John Kelly, he was the general in charge of the southern command before becoming secretary of homeland security. Of course the President is going to listen to his views and he’s going to inform the debate, but the terms we’re setting and the views the President is endorsing are his and his alone.”
Appearing on CNN after the Senate voted to open the federal government based on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) promise to bring a DACA bill to the floor in February, Shah did offer one stance from the President. He said that Trump would not sign the bipartisan proposal crafted by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) restoring DACA.