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tv   Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Michael Shear Border Wars  CSPAN  November 17, 2019 11:10am-12:01pm EST

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era novel, primary colors. check your program guide or for schedule information. >> booktv continues now on c-span2, television for serious readers. >> good afternoon. welcome to today's discussion of an important book called "border wars: inside trump's assault on immigration." i name iss carlos sanchez and im a senior editor "texas monthly" magazine and i am based along the border in the rio grande valley. before we dive into this topic,, please remember to silence your cell phones, and please share your experience on social media using the hashtag txbookfest. the authors will be signing books in the book signing tent
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so you can buy the book in the tent adjacent to us and go get it signed in the next tent. a portion of every book sold today supports the texas book festival mission at all of this is courtesy off bookpeople. joining me today are two of the authors of this book. want to start on my far right, michael shear covers president trump, a veteran political correspondent before comingo to the times in 2010, he spent spent 18 years writing about local state and national politics for the "washington post" what hear is also part of the pulitzer prize-winning team that covered the virginia tech shootings in 2007. to my right is julie hirschfeld davis, the congressional editor at the new times and deputy washington editor.
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washington for 22 years, she joined the times in 2014 as white house correspondent after bloomberg news, associated press, baltimore sun and congressional quarterly, she won the 2009 mckinley award for distinguished reporting of congress, please join me in welcoming our two guests today. first off, i wanted to congratulate you all on fascinating book, i have to admit i finished reading it last night, but it was really insightful and i'm wondering how you all came decide to write this book. please. >> well, can everyone hear me, thanks, first of all thank you for the kind of introduction, exciting for us to be here, as carlos said, i think both of us
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-- [inaudible] >> particularly in the last several years the issue of immigration and when we saw the presidential campaign that donald trump ran, it became clear to us that this was a central element of his -- of his message, of his presidency if he were to win which none of us expected that he would but once he took office, once he won the election, we realized that this is going to be really the issue that really drove a lot of his focus in his first term. we both as white house correspondent covered a lot of the initial moves on immigration, starting transition when they quietly put in place a set of executive orders and potential legislative proposal that is they wanted to see move and i think it was very strike to go us from the very beginning how unusual his approach was, how unusual his rhetoric about
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the issue and then as the presidency got underway, what i think both of us noticed was that the things that made president trump approach immigration unusual, the things that made his -- his moves on the issue controversial were in many ways the same things that made his entire presidency so unsubstantial, the sort of shoot from the hip style that the president had, reaching for the most radical proposals he could possibly find, his disdain for professional career government people who are specialist in the area, chaotic way that west wing went on, all the feud that went on, all the things that came together in immigration policy and that's what got us interesting in a deeper look at how this is playing out. >> was there a sense going into this project that by focusing on one area of his presidency you were painting such a clear
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picture of leadership style. >> hello. hello, no it's not on. hello, hello. better, no? yeah, okay, sorry. yeah, i think as she said we, by the time we decided to work on the book at the beginning of 2018 there had already been a lot of reporting about the chaos inside the white house and the nature of presidency and we wanted a way to capture that in a way that wasn't just another book like that, in a way that dealt with the topic that was -- that was important, that was central to the american experience and -- and we wanted to -- to use that topic to capture what the presidency was all about and our goal going into the book was, if we could talk to enough people and get behind the themes and enough of the meetings, figure out the
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motivations behind what the president was doing on immigration and how his aides were putting it together, that we would -- that we would have something important to say not only about immigration but the president and how he makes decisions more broadly and, you know, we sat down one evening over a couple of glasses of wine and looked at each other and i think we should write a book about this. >> one of the things that most appealing about this book is the vivid insider account that you are able to provide throughout the book, did you have difficulty getting people to talk about and share that -- those inside reviews of what was going on? >> yes and no. how the policies came to be and
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the president came to be preoccupied with this issue of immigration was that there was a lot of resistance to being seen, nobody wanted to go on the record, the president himself ended up going on the record with us at the very end of the process but his aides current and former were very reluctant to do that. a pretty strong sense of wanting to get the story out, why things had gone down the way they had, there was a lot of feeling that, you know, their whole approach had been misunderstood, they had been pushed to do things that in many cases they didn't either feel were appropriate or practical, there was a lot of frustration among people inside the administration and outside who share president trump's views on immigration who believe in more enforcement and less legal immigration even that felt
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that he had squandered his opportunity to actually accomplish those things in hazard way in making policies, all of those things conspired so that that ultimately helped us find the people we need today really flush out the story, it wasn't pushing on an open door, it took a lot of investigating and a lot of long interviews to get to the point where people were willing to share with us the insights to really explain how this had all happened. you often find resistance from people who don't want the stories that they're telling you to be in the newspaper the next day and one of the things that the book does that this is our first book, both julie and i and what we discovered is that being able to talk to sit down over a long dinner with someone and say, this isn't going to appear until 7, 8, 9, 10 months from
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now, i'm mindful of the story, one of the stories in the book which you all may have heard about which is the idea that president trump had building along the border and filling with alligators and snakes and we got that initially from somebody who we talked to in one of these long interviews and we would have never gotten from the one person if they thought we would put it in the new york times the next day and it was, you know, it was those kinds of, kind of agreements and understandings of the people that we were going to put the stuff in context, it wasn't going to be just a headline but in the context of 400 page book that helped to explore those things and i think really made the difference in some people's willingness to talk. >> and there's an irony here, you point out that immigration as a focal point of trump's campaign wasn't necessarily his idea, can you explain kind of
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the evolution of how immigration became central component of his campaign? >> yeah, it's interesting because watching the campaign and then watching how president trump approaches the issue when he took office you would think that this is something that he had always been, you know, worked up about but the fact is that when he started to run for president long before -- 2 years before 2016 anyway, the wall was never really a focus for him, he would talk about illegal immigration, it was something that had weighed on his mind, he talked about it before as private citizen and as he started to make appearances, political events. >> don't worry about it. [laughter]
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china. russia. >> is that better? hello. >> go ahead. >> okay. so he obviously -- he thought about immigration and talked about immigration but wasn't so much about the wall, it was really about this real sense of us versus them, you know, what this is doing to our country and what his advisers realize that these were powerful things that people were responding to when donald trump would talk and they started looking for a way to remind him because this is not a president or at that point a potential candidate who likes to speak from scripted remarks ever or likes to take a briefing to remind him what the talking points that he should hit are. so they started looking for for a way how can we remind him to talk about the issue and always hit on this very powerful topic to really capture the emotions and the visceral sort of
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reactions of his crowd and they decided because he's a real estate guy and loves to talk about building something beautiful and he's the greatest builder that if it could make him remember that he's talked about a wall, then he would launch into discourse of immigration, immigrant that would really get him going and then he was off to the races, they mentioned it to him, he started talking about it and what he loved was the feedback that he would get, really strong response, lots of cheers from the crowd, they would start chanting and that's what he ultimately found irresistible and why he kept coming back and back to the topic to the point where he became president, fore gone conclusion that he would focus on the wall because he had been talking for a couple of years. >> one of the first events that he got sort of visceral feedback from the crowd was here in texas, one of the texas --
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>> the texas patriots. a convention -- -- in 2015. >> julie characterized them as advisers recognizing the potential of immigration, but initially they weren't advisers, correct? this was an informal trio of people who recognized that one of their top priorities would sink well with president trump's priorities, can you tell us about jeff sessions, steve bannon and steve miller. >> right, so this is -- it's really actually amazing, we sort of start the book with this because we are back in 2013 and january 2013, it's right after president obama has won a second term and you have this trio of people, bannon, miller and sessions who were at the time on fringes to have republican party and they don't -- they don't have any chants of really wielding powers, sessions is in the senate, miller works for
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him, bannon is kind of working at bright bart and lobbying hand grenades at the republican party which at the time the republican party bound and determine today reach out to hispanic voters and broaden their appeal, they sort of thought that's why romney had lost to obama, again, so they meet at ban on the townhouse in washington, they meet for dinner, they eat for 5 hours and, you know, populist revolt as they are eating and sipping martinis and the whole dinner was about how do we find somebody, the term they used the chapter that we title the chapter, they needed to find a vessel, a vessel to take two major issues, immigration and trade and -- and essentially hijack the republican party to take what they viewed as a republican party that was, sort of in bed with the corporate
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interest and in bed with the democrats to the extent that they sort of were all kind of one side of the spectrum and kind of hijack that and take it away, they didn't think of donald trump then, they really just thought of other people, they thought of sarah palin and lou dobbs and even sessions himself maybe talked about running but the -- but they sort of plotted, it was the beginning of the takeover that at the time if you think that julie and i had known of the dinner at the time we would have thought absolutely no chance in hell that they're going to actually make this work and, of course, you know, a few months later bannon sees speech that trump gives saying all the things that the 3 had said, you know, a few months earlier and before you know it, they -- all 3 of them are part of the campaign and ultimately part of the administration that, you know, works beyond their wildest dreams. >> and the case that they are making in this dinner, this is right after some of you may have remembered the autopsy or as the
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republican party was doing to autopsy of why mitt romney lost in 2012 and general consensus that hispanic -- [inaudible] >> and the 3 of them, one of them had this article that conservative writer had written, called the case of the missing white-working class and the argument was mitt romney did not lose because he had not reached out broadly enough, he lost because he alienated, he was not popular, he could not get a consensus from the white-working class who saw him assault's as bad as democrats because he was out of touch, he didn't understand working people and he hadn't spoken directly enough to their concerns, that's what they thought he could do if they ran populist play and looking for someone who could do that rather than what the whole rest of the
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establishment was needed to happen. >> as you point out immigration was the third rail of politics, explain a little bit about why it was a third rail and why neither party really wanted to touch it? >> yeah, so the first -- my first exposure covering administration, george w. bush administration, he talked obviously about comprehensive immigration reform, he talked about being a compassionate conservative and there seemed a consensus among democrats and some republicans that there should be sort of a compromise over what to do with the at that time, i think the number was 12 million undocumented people that were in the country but reordering the system that it was more functional and efficient for the future, a big effort to try and do that and what both parties found was it was really hard, extremely
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divisive issue in both political parties because you had democrats who at the time were divided between labor unions that were skeptical of some immigration reforms that they thought could hurt american workers and another sort of strain of the democratic party that felt that this is a compromise that needed to happen, ted kennedy was the person who really carried that forward during the debate. then you had republicans, the bulk of the party was as mike was saying sort of chamber of commerce approach the face want to put up to the world of the party, compassionate conservatives but there was a whole group as jeff sessions was leading it of really strong immigration hawks who felt this was going to undermine security and this was the wrong approach and this is going to hurt american workers who were aligned with the wing of the democratic party that
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help that. because at suchh an emotional issue you had a dangerous combination of divisions in both parties, republicans on one side would say, you know, amnesty. democrats on the other side would say this is going to hurt workers. between the two o of them it became a very dangerous issue that people were afraid that their constituents were going to turn against them if they embraced a compromise like this, and that experience confirm all the fears and certainly once president trump comes on the scene i think everyone sees the power of this issue to really motivate voters. >> he crosses the line like even amidst a really intense and difficult fight over immigration over the last ten or 15 years, he crossed the line that nobody is willing to cross before. from the moment he comes down and talks about mexicans as rapist on the elevator. he takes the debate to a place
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that if not nobody, if only the people on the fringe had been willing to go. >> to be fair, president obama wasou famously them to porter in chief. when he was in office the initial family surge from central america began in 2014. .. from the way he handled that initial third central american migration. they didn't separate families, but a lot of the immigration advocacy groups that have been the most critical of the
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president trump's policies were also very critical of the obama administration during that time and he did in his own ways, obama did with the trump administration tried to do a more aggressive way which is to figure out ways to deter people including coming out publicly saying if you call me will be sent back and obama got a lot of criticism for that, but i do think that this idea of having a candidate who would take a populist message national and having trump the that person was what really drove the immigration issue to the four of the 2016 election and i think that's why it's been such a driver of his presidency because i think his advisers and president trump felt strongly he could never kind of lose faith with that message if he had any chance of being reelected. >> i was going to say one of the people we talked to told me one point was that the way he distinguished what president obama did in terms of
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confronting the migration crisis and what president trump in his administration did was that the steps the obama people took to try is julie said deter folks pour them up inside, i mean, we talked to a lot of the obama-- julian i covered that and they did things that you know they thought were necessary, but for them up inside whereas the trump people were more eager to put in place policies. i think there was a difference in motivation and a difference in the kind of the limits the obama people tried to put limits on themselves where trump people tried to take the limits off the. >> even immigration hard liners were caucus it of the criticism
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of the fob, racism, how did that change in 2016. >> it's interesting as we have an anecdote in the book where one of then candidate trumps advisers goes to see roy beck who runs an organization called numbers usa which has been working for yearsrs and years to crack down on illegal immigration, but also reduce illegal immigration in the us and they have pushed this agenda that senator jeff sessions had been in the senate trying to push as well for a long time and they had a scorecard of the things that they wanted policies they wanted candidates to embrace and they would rate candidates according to how they -- you know whether they supported various elements, things like and requiring employers to verify the immigration status of would-be employees before hiring them and
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things like stricter enforcement, border security and they had this meeting and a trump campaign advisor he set to him i think they gave trump 8c minus at that point during the primary and he said how can we get our great up and he said well, we have this list of 10 things that we think needs to happen if we get a handle on the immigration system and a like calling mexican rapists is not on here. you don't get points for that you don't get points for building a wall in his point really was like don't you get credit for that d, but if your candidate talks that way then you will make it harder for us to achieve these objectives, but he in some ways in making himself into a messenger fores these policies then we can debate and there's been lots of debate about why these groups support these policies and a lot say the reason they
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went to push these 10 things is because they are inherently racist. this is a person who recognize if you talk in the way trump was talking about immigrants immigratione you are going to be less likely to be able to achieve these goals. >> if you read the book there's a lot in the book about the ways in which trumps rhetoric sabotages his own agenda. the comments he makes which sort of blows of a potential deal he might've had on the wall and on daca, his other comments that sort of deep in and frustrate the relationshipns that he might have had between-- with democrats and even republicans on capitol hill the way he talked about immigration that just really angered his republican allies on capitol hill that might've been able to sort of fight for even parts of his own agenda and so like again and again and again we describe in the book in which his rhetoric not only is sort of kind of people would get it say
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that's not the right thing to say from a moral perspective but also frustrates his own you know his own peoplesp and what he may have achieved if he didn't talk that way. >> his rhetoric was appealing to the masses and he wins the presidency and suddenly he has to contend with a issue of governance. tell us about the hamilton group and its effect on transition. >> trump did not do a whole lot of work beforehand to sort of stand up a group of staff that could quickly hit the ground running once you want because many of his campaign aides will tell you he didn't think he was going to win, but also he was very super titian-- superstitious and in what to plan a transition in the way modern presidents have done so on day one he did not have-- they went after he was elected
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he didn't have a group ready too go people to have security clearances and had been in government and knew what to do. tat he had instead was this inner circle of loyalists, bannon and miller were two of them and there was another man by the name of jean hamiltonn wo worked for jeff sessions along with stephen miller on capitol hill who wasef a lawyer and essentially it falls to him with you know participation by bannon and miller to put together a group of staffers essentially who are going to be able to after the president is inaugurated put this agenda he's talked about on immigration into practice. they did not trust the career professionals and that the government to be able to do any of this so they kept all of the usual people who may be helping in this process during the presidential transition out because they were afraid they would sabotage were efforts, they were going to weekag and undermine what president-elect trump wanted to do so instead they meet secretly in some these
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people are staffers from capitol hill who have worked on these issues were longtime. other people who had experience of the department of homeland security and they start putting together this kind of almost a menu of like possible actions that could be taken from the get-go. they are essentially in a position where they have been on the outside of these debates were longtime and are always like a the hard right people tht no one wanted in the meeting when meetings were having on capitol hill about immigration reform because they were not about a compromise they were about blowing up a compromise but here they are and now they get to write you know the mandate is give me your most aggressive most effective immigration restriction and how it can be put into place quickly so the sort of they are unleashed and they put together this menu of things, but what becomes clear towards the end one thing on the menu is ending daca, one of the things on the
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menu is a travel ban which essentially is as executive order of what term has talked about. they basically send forth this hole with a considered to be a menu of items that the president could pick from if he wanted to call this what you wanted to talk about someone describe it as they would sort order if you things off many of an instead he ends up ordering the all-you-can-eat buffet and even they are shocked at the fact that not only did he want to do things one through seven but he's doing one through 25. >> it was the beginning of the war against the bureaucracy, the war with the bureaucracy within his own administration because they imposed the travel ban five days after the president takes office , no planning, none of the bureaucracy who would help to
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implement the thing have even seen it that we have is seen in the book of them sort of convening the top people around this massive conference room table at homeland security where for the first time all these top officials can see the travel ban that jean hamilton and his group had been working on in secret for months and they get handed the documents and they are beginning to flip through it with a bunch of lawyers and people, you know border patrol-- the folks that will actually had to stop folks at the ports of entry when they come in and they are flipping through it started to say how much time do we had to do an analysis on this or an assessment and kevin mack leaning who was then head of the border protection and later became homeland security secretary is on kind of a remote monitoring interrupts the meeting and said guys, he just signed this.
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i'm watching cnn. the president just signed this. [laughter] literally their mouths dropped to the table and what you saw was it was the beginning of what would be of a two and half year battle between stephen miller and banning and trump himself to push harder and faster and tyond all of the limits the bureaucrats some of whom were obama holdovers but some work people that trump put in place, his own people h but who recognized there are sort of practical moral legal considerations to doing some of these things and when trump and miller are pushing really really hard. that starts the first week. >> describe shock as relates to
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zero tolerance, another major issue i came to explode on the administration and miller has recognized the limits of shock and i think it was very deliberate in the beginning that they didn't want to leave time for anyone inside the government to sort of slow roller do it they considered to be you know to sabotage the president's agenda, but they did learn a valuable and pretty painful lesson which was that they immediately went to court, it got blocked and took them to more tries in almost a year to get a travel ban executive order in place thatly actually the courts would allow and is so miller learned the valuable lesson for him if i went to short-circuit the process, if i
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want to get around the people in the government who may want to block these things i have to these have a process of some sort of place, at least have something two points two, data and memos and meetings i could say happened so that so that we don't get tripped up like the travel that again and what he realizes as well is that you need one powerful person in the administration that will be the water carrier and it will clearly be jeff sessionss who hs we set is in immigration hardliner in congress and his attorney general at this point. he's unapologetically-- [inaudible] he's the one person in all of our reporting who is always the least conflicted, the most willing to go out and say yes, we are doing thisme it may sound mean or horrible but we are doing it because we have to and is like basically president trump and sessions who are the
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two people most willing to make the public case so sessions announces this zero tolerance policy of an in the homeland security what's happening is there's a memorandum that ultimately lands on kiersten nielsen's desk who is in the secretary of homeland security that essentially talked about the policy and what the implications would be which was if people are at the border and they have a minor child they will be separated because they will be prosecuted criminally and obviously you cannot have a child in a criminal setting, so they ask a lot of questions. she stalling for time because tristan nielsen feels it could be disastrous, but ultimately she signs off on the memo and that's what's in place.
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>> it was kiersten nielsen who epok on the face of family separation. had that happen? >> so, can to understand nielsen in our opinion she's one of the most interesting characters in the book. to understand, she was berated daily by trump. he never thought she was tough enough. he never thought she was aggressive enough at implementing his proposals and so when as julie said this memo was sitting on her desk for almost a month and she is refusing to sign it. she doesn't assign it and every day there are people from the trump administration from the white house, miller and sessions and jean hamilton and these other folks hammering her your got to sign thiso. we cannot implement zero tolerance of my shoe's on the
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and her objections are not necessarily moral. she doesn't really say this will be terrible for kids or quit she says is i don't know that it will work, do we have the resources where we put the kids and in the end though and there were people telling her don't be the face of this, but in the end she recognizes that the president if she wants to continue as homeland security secretary she needs to-- she buckles essentially to the pressure from the president to be tough, to be part of a team and be a team player and she signs the memo. the interesting thing about her, once she does that shields the family separation crisis and really becomes not only the person that actually put it into effect but becomes the face of--
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she is the person and tells him know or you should not build a moat, the person that tells him when he later indicates that migrants if they throw rocks at the military that they should be shot-- the military should shoot them in return and she's the one that tells them essentially no, mr. president the use of force policy you cannot do that and he becomes in the meeting a couple days later and says i get it we can't shoot to kill, but can we at least shoot them in the leg to slow them down and she says t, sir, so even though on the one hand issues the face of the policyof she becomes this person who again and again and again behind closed doors is kind of resisting his attempts and ultimately she gets fired for that and ultimately he tries to close the border we can talk more about that too but that's what ends ups-- he fire server that.
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>> she's a vivid example of what happens to officials of this administrationon which is she resists and she resistedd and hd the sense early on that it could be disaster and her aides are telling her you don't want to be the face of this, but once she decides to do it then she feels like she owns it and in a lot of ways some of you may remember she went to bryce-- white house briefing room and answered questions about this policy at the height of sort of the pure he about it. she had been told by lots of her allies inside the white housese and the part of homeland security not to do that including john kelly who was the chief of staff. they said don't do it, it's a set up and you will look bad and ultimately she felt like i signed the memo selected do it so it's interesting you see happening across administration where people are not totallyg comfortable with what they are asked to do but then they agreed to do it and feel like they are bought in hand have to-- [inaudible]
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see that lets from the audience. if you have a question go to one of the two microphones and please questionsas, quickly. we are running out of time. [inaudible] >> in 2016, the division within the party of immigration that you talked about very well, but if you look at it now today a very high percentage of democrats support open immigration or more or less open and vice versa with the republicans and i would like just your idea of what that dynamic has been. have people shifted from one or the other or are we just a faction of divisiveness and decided to change our mind so we can fit into one of these perspectives or another and then just to add onto that, would you think that means for the future, looking to maybe a post trump
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life, how will that dynamic play out, that change in dynamic that has occurred. >> to answer the second part first because it's easier to say we don't know. we don't know how much of what happens post trump snack-- snaps back into a pre-trump reality. i do think that one of the last lasting impacts in this area, that this president has had is really changing the baseline for kind of where this issue is. you know president trump moved the needle in terms of where the republican party as described earlier was kind of heading in a direction which had trump not come along you know it's hard to
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know 100% for sure, but it looked like the party was heading in a direction where immigration would become less of a hot button issue and there may have been more in the country and what trump has done has obliterate that emerging consensus so where you now have the republican party-- the trump party firmly you know kind of in that i camp in that more restrictionist hardline camp and whether you are here on the border of texas or in minneapolis or wherever you are it's become a central tenets of the modern current crop led republican party and i think what's hard to know is if trump were i don't know impeached and removed from office tomorrow which probably by the way won't happen, but what would happen to this sort of constituency that he built or is that sort of
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based in now to where the republican party is-- there were plenty places in the country where did work, but a midterm election is somewhat different and sort of uncertain what will happen in 2020 and beyond. >> to quickly add-on because i i want to hear more questions, but i would say one of the things trump has succeeded in and in some ways was deliberate was pushing the democrats further left on this issue and i think what you have seen in response to trump's rhetoric and some of his actionss as you now have a democratic presidential fields which is not unanimously but the bulk of the field is a saying maybe immigration should be decriminalized, talking about you know health benefits for undocumented people and this is a place where the democratic
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party wasn't necessarily before donald trump and i think the fact he's gone so far to the right has pushed democrats to the left and i think no matter what happens in the next election that will become a consensus that's harder to get because of that. >> go ahead, sir. >> i had two quick ones. number one, it's hard to cut through the propagandawo all around us. where he is a good source for the numbers? invasions or it's not a problem, have no idea. i could not tell you if it's a hundred thousand a day or 15 and i have no idea where to find that information. [inaudible] >> or the "new york times"-- know i'm kidding. one of the things that the permit of homeland security does is track this on a daily basis and that's one thingng very senr white house official when he was explaining to me nielsen's hiring basically said her downfall was there is a sheet of
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paper every single day for you can see how many people showed up at the border and if that number wasn't low enough-- as long as that number was going up she was in trouble and that ultimately did her in but that's also a source of public information so if you're interested to see how many people you can compare to past history and see that there is no compared to historical patterns there is no crisis. there's a big flow of people, but it's good to put it in context and you can get those numbers from the government. >> last question, please. [inaudible] >> i don't understand nielsen and everyone else. i know people are starting to come out and talk, but there's suchg eight destabilizing influence in trump and what he's doing that no matter what side you are on when you see the whole foundation starting to crack and it to me that's terribly frightening and i don't
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understand people who just scurry away. first they buy-in and scurry away and hide, what is it that keeps them? why is there not a bigger outcry why aren't more people saying this is not tenable? >> that's a big question, i mean, i guess i will answer this -way maybe julie has a thought. we talked to about 150 people for the book, administration officials, current, former and others. one thing we asked people who worked in the administration is why do you do this? you don't necessarily agree with the policy with the end goal and you know people had different reasons. people had different experiences some people did credit and some people did not quit. most of the people we talked to
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were in that category of people who were trying to find a way who are longtime kind of government people who worked for democrats and republicans and who are trying desperately to find a way to take this president sort of chaotic gut instinct on immigration and find a way to make it work. a lot of them were conflicted about that. a lot of them told us that they didn't necessarily agree with the ultimate goal that the president and especially the extreme rhetoric and goal, but also felt like if they left, you know, the president would only replace them with people who were more restrictive and more likely to be sort of a yes-man. like what you see in what the book documents is as people get pushed out, as kristen nielsen
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gets pushed out w and frances ws a pretty hardline guy ahead of the legal immigration of dhs, he gets pushed out and they are replaced by people far more kind of willing to say yes to president trump, so i think there's that element in the government that was conflicted that sort of felt like staying was the best option. >> one final quick question. >> curious if you talk to any of senator cotten's peopley . he has been a big proponent of reduction illegal migration specifically which i'm worried about. .ow effective has that been >> we did and senator cotten is quite close to president trump. they see eye to eye on a lot of things particularly on immigration. we do have this episode in the book where cotton and david purdue another senator also interested in cuts to legal
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immigration have introduced legislation that would do that. it's quite substantial reduction i think a 50% reduction over the life of the legislation and they went president trump to endorse this and so they pitch it to him and he gets briefed on it and the day that he's about to come out and announce that he supports it there's a meeting in the west wing, a source we talked to his talking with some folks at the national economic council national security council and said i think it's deeply inconsistent with the president comes out this on for legal immigration, just like illegal immigration and he's about to go out and endorse the tom cotton bill that think that's legal immigration and trumps aids and the bill doesn't do that tickets about merit-based immigration, skills, this and that, but not a cut in legal immigration and the person at the meeting says it really o does. we promise you it does and basically there like okay, agree
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to disagree in trump goes out there and endorses the bill and then stephan miller gives a briefing in the white house briefing room and says this bill is great and will cut legal immigration so there is this sort of push poll and we could never actually determinedev whether president trump at the time or understood that it was what was happening, but when we interviewed at the end of the process he said i didn't agree with that aspect. no i know we are out of time but to say one thing that's them up well documented about this administration is that miller, trump, trump you don't know whether he believes it or not but miller and the people around him have pushed really hard in lots of ways to reduce legal immigration to the focus is always on the border and illegal immigration, but we document the changesth they have put in place to basically take every style you could turn and turn it down if not all the way then at least
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down in terms of the flow of people in the country whether it's legal or illegal and that's one thing going forward i think we will continue to write about for the paper because it's less well understood than the obvious helegal immigration piece. >> the authors will be selling their book at the book signingng which i think is too tense over. >> thank you guys for coming. i really appreciate it. [applause]. >> next come on book tvs afterwards former speaker of the house of representatives newt gingrich offers his thoughts on the threat the us faces from china. he's interviewed by american enterprise institute scholar. afterwards is a weekly interview program with guest host


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