Sen. Chris Coons on Morning Joe: “Once again…the President is sort of jerking the wheel of the bus of our nation left and right, left and right."
Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen’s testimony “suggested that part of being a loyal Cabinet member is not being truthful, even in sworn testimony before a Senate committee,” Coons said.
On the DHS Secretary’s testimony:
Well, that was a remarkable hearing yesterday.
One in which a secretary, a Cabinet member, who was actually in the room, kept saying that she didn’t know things that we all know to be true - the idea that Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen couldn’t confirm that Norway is majority white, couldn’t confirm that she knew what sort of obscenities the President had used, and what they meant, suggested that part of being a loyal Cabinet member is not being truthful, even in sworn testimony before a Senate committee.
It was a divisive and difficult hearing. It had initially been scheduled for us to do oversight on some very important matters: disaster relief to Puerto Rico, the wall and what we should do, immigration policy. I’m encouraged that Sen. Lindsey Graham and Sen. Dick Durbin presented a really strong and bipartisan compromise to the President and gravely concerned that the President, who welcomed them last Tuesday, threw this out the door and created such a mess last Thursday. And this hearing was just one of the pieces of the wreckage.
The motive to lie:
I think there’s millions of Americans who voted for Donald Trump thinking, based on his business experience, based on his long record of getting big projects done in New York City and elsewhere, from his early days fixing the Wollman Rink to his accomplishments in business at least as they perceived them.
They thought he’d be able to bring folks together and move us past some of these long, difficult, divisive issues. That’s who we saw last Tuesday when he chose to bring a big, bipartisan group into the White House and say ‘bring me a deal, I’ll sign it, I’ll take the heat.’
And, as Sen. Graham said yesterday, who knows where that guy went.
The meeting on Thursday where other Senators were present, was divisive and difficult, it wasn’t the first time, and sadly it’s probably not the last time our President will use racially insensitive or baldly racist language and that’s blowing this whole thing up, making it far more difficult for us to keep the government funded, to find a resolution to disaster funding, to CHIP, to community health centers, and to dreamers and DACA. That’s what we got hired to do here. And, the folks who are being let down are the American people. This hurts our reputation globally and it makes it hard for us to work together on anything.
The immigration deal:
Sen. Coons: I think it’s clearly the President’s responsibility that he couldn’t hear yes on a strong bipartisan group [that] made tough compromises and delivered the deal that he was looking for ... As Sen. Graham said yesterday, who knows where that guy went.
That can only happen with Presidential leadership. Once again, we face a moment where the President is sort of jerking the wheel of the bus of our nation left and right, left and right. He could say, I’ve thought about it, I’ve looked at it, and frankly this deal with one little tweak is something I can sign off on and we need to keep the government open. It’s his job, he is the President of the United States, he and his party control the Congress.
If this government shuts down because the Republican majority in the House can’t get enough votes to pass their proposal or because the President can’t accept the very deal he asked for and was brought back to him having met the former criteria he laid out, then I think it’s clearly the President’s responsibility that he couldn’t hear yes on a strong bipartisan group of Senators made tough compromises and delivered the deal that he was looking for.