the national interest

Trump Still Deciding Whether to Abandon His Central Policy Stance in Tonight’s Speech

President Donald Trump is winging it. Photo: Aude Guerrucci - Pool/Getty Images

Donald Trump suggested today to CNN that immigration policy might need “a softening on both sides. There’s got to be a coming together.” (The quotes are attributed to a “senior administration official,” but the official talks exactly like, and almost certainly is, Trump himself.) The article, sourced to the almost-certainly-Trump official, reports, more astonishingly, “[t]he president is thinking about adding the topic to his speech tonight to a joint session of Congress.”

This is not the first time Trump has floated the possibility of altering his stance on immigration. (He did so most prominently last summer when, during an appearance with Sean Hannity, he also promised a “softening,” and asked the audience, “So you have somebody who’s been in the country for 20 years, has done a great job, and everything else. Do we take him and the family and her and him or whatever and send him out?”)

This is, however, the first time a president has publicly contemplated reversing his central campaign pledge on the day of his first major speech to Congress. What is so breathtaking is not the reversal but the fact that the reversal is being contemplated, without any certainty. With hours to go before the speech, Trump may or may not throw his most famous position overboard. “It could be good for everyone,” Trump/“senior administration official” tells CNN. “People are exhausted” from debating immigration. He’s only been president a month!

Trump Deciding Whether to Abandon Main Policy Stance Tonight