Trump Heading To United Nations

Sep 17, 2017
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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

President Trump's talks with Democratic leaders on immigration have left much of the political class perplexed and his ardent followers incensed. But what does this outbreak of bipartisanship actually mean? He's been giving his usual mixed messages on Twitter. To get some clarity, we're joined now by senior political correspondent Mara Liasson. Good morning.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Good morning.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Mara, Trump is dealing with the Democrats. Just a couple of weeks ago, it was over the debt ceiling and hurricane relief - this time DACA and funding for border security but with no money for a border wall, we should say. What does this mean for the president's relationship with his own party, though?

LIASSON: That's a good question, and Republicans are wondering about that, too. As you said, they were blindsided by this tentative deal he made on DACA with Democrats. It really shook up a lot of Republicans not so much because they disagree with the content of it. But they're not sure if they can count on President Trump. And they're wondering where else he's willing to make deals with Democrats. It clearly shows that he is frustrated with the leaders of his own party and their failure to deliver, as promised, on issues like repealing and replacing Obamacare.

He does seem more comfortable making deals with his fellow New Yorker Chuck Schumer than he does Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan. But Republicans in Congress almost shrugged this off this week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, in his own dry way, we look forward to seeing the president's own legislative proposal. But this also does seem to be the first time in this tentative deal on the DREAMers that Donald Trump did something that could possibly alienate his base.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, that's a good point. I mean, what about his base? We have seen some reaction to this. What has it been?

LIASSON: This is splitting his base. Polls show that most Americans are sympathetic to the DREAMers. Majorities favor letting them stay, even large numbers of Republicans, but not the president's hardcore base. And we saw this week on Twitter some Trump supporters burning their Make America Great Again hats. We saw the headlines in Breitbart, the "alt-right" website run by his former political adviser, Steve Bannon. The headline said "Amnesty Don." We're now going to find out how much of his base is what I call the Fifth Avenue voters, people who will stick with him no matter what. You know, he famously said, I could stand on Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and not lose any voters.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Right.

LIASSON: So there is a bit of a cult of personality around him. But there are other parts of his base who feel deeply about immigration. This was the signature issue in his campaign. And the question is, will they become disenchanted and maybe don't - stay home - not turn out to vote for Republicans in 2018?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: He's got to be looking closely at that. I want to move to the - though, to the Russia probe. We haven't been hearing much about that lately. But the special counsel, Robert Mueller, took a step that may turn out to be a very big deal.

LIASSON: Yes, what he did - he executed a search warrant to obtain ads bought by Russians that ran on Facebook during the campaign. He wants to know how those ads were targeted to just the right voters - just the right Facebook feeds. He wants to know what Russia - if what Russia did using America social media violated the laws against foreigners making campaign contributions. He wants to know if Russia got any targeting help for these ads from the Trump campaign. This was the fake news, the kind of anti-Hillary Clinton propaganda that Russia pushed during the campaign. And in a broader sense - Facebook, Google, Twitter - all the huge, giant, global social media publishers basically are increasingly in the crosshairs of Congress because they're looking at these giant publishers, and they're starting to look a lot more like giant, unregulated utilities.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: We've been focused on what transpired between the president and the Democratic Party and also the Russia probe and hurricanes. But there have been events overseas as well.

LIASSON: Yes there have. North Korea fired another missile, once again calling the president's bluff. He's threatened them with fire and fury. He said the U.S. military was locked and loaded if they continued their provocations. That hasn't stopped them. And once again, the president seemed to disclose classified information from another country, this time after the latest terrorist attack in London. He said that Scotland Yard had the terrorists in their sights before the bombing. It's not clear whether he heard that on "Fox & Friends" or from a classified briefing, but that earned him a stern rebuke from the British government. And it might come up again when he goes to the United Nations General Assembly in New York this week.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That was Mara Liasson, our senior political correspondent. Thanks so much.

LIASSON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.