A CNN panel of pundits ridiculed President Donald Trump’s constantly shifting definition of border security as they tried to determine what specific measures the president supports as the government shutdown enters its ninth day.
Host Brianna Keilar pointedly asked if Trump was demanding something “he actually has abandoned”, after his former chief of staff John Kelly told the L.A. Times that Trump “left the solid concrete wall early on in the administration.”
“We’ll remind people again as you said about the president’s promise, he also promised that Mexico would be paying for this wall,” senior political analyst David Chalian said. “This entire conversation is about the U.S. taxpayers funding this wall. He clearly has backed away from some of the promise.”
“He will say in a round about way, Mexico will pay for it,” Keilar reminded Chalian, which got a chuckle.
“That’s clearly not the case, his acting chief of staff made that quite clear. What the debate is here is how much the taxpayers are on the hook for this wall,” he replied. Trump, he said, “hates to think for one second that his hardcore supporters will see him in any form of retreat on this key promise.”
TIME’s Molly Ball agreed that Trump’s recent aggression on Twitter reflected his need to please his base, but said the “maximalist position” that gets his crowds riled up might preclude any sort of compromise.
“The real problem here is that he is not able to make a deal. That’s what his supporters really want from the Donald Trump they voted for is that he famous deal-making ability,” she said. “Where is it?” But Ball was just getting started.
“There is no negotiation going on, there’s just a president tweeting contradictory things all the time,” she said. “One day tweeting a picture of these sort of these venetian blind looking things and the next day saying ‘no, no, it’s still a wall.'” Ball added that the president was so erratic, that his own party was refusing to act on anything.
“‘Venetian blinds that are very pointy on the top,'” laughed Keilar. “We should point that out when he talks about the slats.”
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