Clash with Trump casts spotlight on Kelly

Rep. Jim Jordan R-Ohio a key member and founder of the conservative Freedom Caucus heads to a House Republican Conference meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington Friday

White House chief of staff John Kelly on Wednesday defended the President's rejection last week of a bipartisan Senate immigration bill, saying it wasn't as inclusive as the President asked for.

While meeting with Democrats on Wednesday, White House chief of staff John Kelly called some of President Trump's campaign stances on the border wall "uninformed", several people told CNN.

Trump said on Twitter that the wall concept remains the same "from the first day I conceived of it", that parts of the wall would be "see through", that it wouldn't be built along mountains or "tough rivers", and that Mexico would eventually pay for it.

"Mexico will pay - in some form, Mexico will pay for the wall", the president said at Camp David Jan. 6. Kelly said while the Mexican government would not directly pay for it, there were other ways to generate the revenue for it.

He added that it "will be paid for, directly or indirectly, or through longer term reimbursement, by Mexico, which has a ridiculous 71 billion U.S. dollar (£51 billion) trade surplus with the United States".

It was during Oval Office negotiations over a potential DACA replacement last week that, in the course of dismissing one deal negotiated by Senate Democrats and Republicans, Trump used a vulgar word to describe African countries and wondered why the USA doesn't get more immigrants from places like Norway.

Democrats want the bill to include protections for immigrants who entered the USA illegally as children, known as "Dreamers".

Mr Kelly, the former boss of the US Homeland Security Department, also told the meeting that he had "tempered" the President's views on the Dreamers, the more than 700,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought into the country as children and are fighting for residency and work permits.

Kelly, according to the Post, also conceded to the group that there ultimately won't be a border wall 'that Mexico will pay for'.

The president added: "We need the Wall for the safety and security of our country".




Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer said there's "very, very strong" sentiment among his party's lawmakers to oppose GOP-drafted legislation that would only keep the government's doors open for four weeks past a looming Friday deadline.

Prototypes of border walls in San Diego.

Also, the chief of staff said the government was focussing on the situation of Dreamers - undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children - whose protection from deportation lapses in March, unless Congress can reinstate it through a legislation that is the subject of intense debate and negotiations.

"This president, if you've seen what he's done, he has changed the way he's looked at a number of things", Kelly told Bret Baier on "Special Report".

"We don't need a wall where you have rivers and mountains and everything else protecting it", Trump said during a meeting on immigration January 9.

But Kelly did not confirm that Trump has spoken directly with leader Kim Jong Un. "Campaign to governing are two different things, and this president has been very flexible in terms of what's in the realm of the possible". "That's what I understood, and all of that was helpful".

Democrats and Republicans are struggling to get an agreement passed on DACA as the government is at risk of getting shut down.

He also denied that the White House asked ex-communicated former adviser Steve Bannon to invoke executive privilege during his testimony to Congress this week on the Russian Federation investigation.

Even if the spending measure succeeds in the House, Republicans would still need at least nine Democratic votes to push it through the Senate, which the GOP controls 51-49.

Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., laid the groundwork Wednesday for attacks on Democrats who vote against the funding plan, arguing that failing to pass the bill would hurt the military as well as beneficiaries of the Children's Health Insurance Program, which the bill would extend.

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