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Wed Oct 2, 2019, 07:36 AM

Alligator Moat: Behind Trump's Ideas for Border

Alligator Moat: Behind Trump’s Ideas for Border


By Michael D. Shear and Julie Hirschfeld Davis

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/01/us/politics/trump-border-wars.html


Oct. 1, 2019

WASHINGTON — The Oval Office meeting this past March began, as so many had, with President Trump fuming about migrants. But this time he had a solution. As White House advisers listened astonished, he ordered them to shut down the entire 2,000-mile border with Mexico — by noon the next day.

The advisers feared the president’s edict would trap American tourists in Mexico, strand children at schools on both sides of the border and create an economic meltdown in two countries. Yet they also knew how much the president’s zeal to stop immigration had sent him lurching for solutions, one more extreme than the next.

Privately, the president had often talked about fortifying a border wall with a water-filled trench, stocked with snakes or alligators, prompting aides to seek a cost estimate. He wanted the wall electrified, with spikes on top that could pierce human flesh. After publicly suggesting that soldiers shoot migrants if they threw rocks, the president backed off when his staff told him that was illegal. But later in a meeting, aides recalled, he suggested that they shoot migrants in the legs to slow them down. That’s not allowed either, they told him.

<snip>

Mr. Trump’s order to close the border was a decision point that touched off a frenzied week of presidential rages, round-the-clock staff panic and far more White House turmoil than was known at the time. By the end of the week, the seat-of-the-pants president had backed off his threat but had retaliated with the beginning of a purge of the aides who had tried to contain him.

Today, as Mr. Trump is surrounded by advisers less willing to stand up to him, his threat to seal off the country from a flood of immigrants remains active. “I have absolute power to shut down the border,” he said in an interview this summer with The New York Times.

<snip>

“You are making me look like an idiot!” Mr. Trump shouted, adding in a profanity, as multiple officials in the room described it. “I ran on this. It’s my issue.”

Among those in the room were Kirstjen Nielsen, the homeland security secretary at the time; Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state; Kevin K. McAleenan, the Customs and Border Protection chief at the time; and Stephen Miller, the White House aide who, more than anyone, had orchestrated Mr. Trump’s immigration agenda. Mick Mulvaney, the acting chief of staff was also there, along with Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, and other senior staff.

Ms. Nielsen, a former aide to George W. Bush brought into the department by John F. Kelly, the president’s former chief of staff, was in a perilous position. She had always been viewed with suspicion by the president, who told aides she was “a Bushie,” and part of the “deep state” who once contributed to a group that supported Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign.

Mr. Trump had routinely berated Ms. Nielsen as ineffective and, worse — at least in his mind — not tough-looking enough. “Lou Dobbs hates you, Ann Coulter hates you, you’re making me look bad,” Mr. Trump would tell her, referring to the Fox Business Network host and the conservative commentator.

The happiest he had been with Ms. Nielsen was a few months earlier, when American border agents had fired tear gas into Mexico to try to stop migrants from crossing into the United States. Human rights organizations condemned the move, but Mr. Trump loved it. More often, though, she drew the president’s scorn.

That March day, he was furious at Mr. Pompeo, too, for having cut a deal with Mexico to allow the United States to reject some asylum seekers — a plan Mr. Trump said was clearly failing.

A complete shutdown of the border, Mr. Trump said, was the only way.

Ms. Nielsen had tried reasoning with the president on many occasions. When she stood up to him during a cabinet meeting the previous spring, he excoriated her and she almost resigned.

Now, she tried again to reason with him.

We can close the border, she told the president, but it’s not going to fix anything. People will still be permitted to claim asylum.

But Mr. Trump was unmoved. Even Mr. Kushner, who had developed relationships with Mexican officials and now sided with Ms. Nielsen, could not get through to him.

“All you care about is your friends in Mexico,” the president snapped, according to people in the room. “I’ve had it. I want it done at noon tomorrow.”

The president’s advisers left the meeting in a near panic.

Every year more than $200 billion worth of American exports flow across the Mexican border. Closing it would wreak havoc on American farmers and automakers, among many others. Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, said in an interview at the time that a border shutdown would have “a potentially catastrophic economic impact on our country.”

<snip>

Mr. Miller, meanwhile, saw an opportunity.

It was his view that the president needed to completely overhaul the Homeland Security Department and get rid of senior officials who he believed were thwarting efforts to block immigrants. Although many were the president’s handpicked aides, Mr. Miller told him they had become part of the problem by constantly citing legal hurdles.

Ms. Nielsen, who regularly found herself telling Mr. Trump why he couldn’t have what he wanted, was an obvious target. When the president demanded “flat black” paint on his border wall, she said it would cost an additional $1 million per mile. When he ordered wall construction sped up, she said they needed permission from property owners. Take the land, Mr. Trump would say, and let them sue us.

When Ms. Nielsen tried to get him to focus on something other than the border, the president grew impatient. During a briefing on the need for new legal authority to take down drones, Mr. Trump cut her off midsentence.

“Kirstjen, you didn’t hear me the first time, honey,” Mr. Trump said, according to two people familiar with the conversation. “Shoot ’em down. Sweetheart, just shoot ’em out of the sky, O.K.?”

<snip>


Long, but fascinating read.

The man is fucking nuts. Like you didn't know that already.

8 replies, 414 views

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Reply Alligator Moat: Behind Trump's Ideas for Border (Original post)
marble falls Oct 2 OP
tanyev Oct 2 #1
Chin music Oct 2 #2
marble falls Oct 2 #3
Chin music Oct 2 #4
Tech Oct 2 #5
marble falls Oct 2 #7
MiniMe Oct 2 #6
marble falls Oct 2 #8

Response to marble falls (Original post)

Wed Oct 2, 2019, 07:45 AM

1. Such childishly ludicrous ideas.

I often wonder if something traumatic happened to him about age 7 or 8. His emotional and cognitive development seems to have stalled out somewhere around there.

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Response to Chin music (Reply #2)

Wed Oct 2, 2019, 08:48 AM

3. I'll pardon you if you get caught is a smoking gun.

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Response to marble falls (Original post)

Wed Oct 2, 2019, 08:58 AM

5. Kirsten Nielsen is being painted as a victim. They are both evil.

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Response to Tech (Reply #5)

Wed Oct 2, 2019, 09:11 AM

7. True but evil on a whole different plain, evil that has some recognition of other people ...

and how evil things look to those other people.

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Response to marble falls (Original post)

Wed Oct 2, 2019, 09:06 AM

6. Looks interesting, but behind a pay wall

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Response to MiniMe (Reply #6)

Wed Oct 2, 2019, 09:12 AM

8. You get one free article.

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