A C-SPAN microphone caught Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer offering what appeared to be candid assessments of his relationship with President Donald Trump and his Wednesday negotiations on a framework for a controversial immigration deal.
“He likes us. He likes me, anyway,” Schumer (D-N.Y.) can be heard saying on CSPAN while cameras showed a wide shot of the Senate floor. The C-SPAN clip on which Schumer can be heard was posted to YouTube by the D.C. Examiner.
It was not clear about whom Schumer was speaking, but he and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had announced the night before that they and the president had reached agreement on a deal that would offer a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as minors in exchange for increased border security. Notably, the deal would not include money for Trump’s long-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The White House and congressional Republicans pushed back on the idea that a firm deal had been reached, with House Speaker Paul Ryan telling reporters Thursday that “we have not begun negotiations” on a deal to protect the so-called Dreamers.
Schumer, speaking into the hot mic, seemed to stick with his version of events, telling his unseen conversation partner that “look, what we said was exactly accurate.”
If there is indeed a deal, either completed or in the works, it would be the second time in as many weeks that the president ran an end-run around Republican leaders in Congress to cut deals with Democrats, a trend that has irked GOP lawmakers. Trump’s deal last week with Pelosi and Schumer on a short-term bill to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling sparked concern among Republicans, who ultimately warily accepted the deal.
While Trump himself said Thursday morning that no immigration agreement had been reached, he laid out on Twitter an argument in favor of protecting the thousands of undocumented Dreamers who were brought the U.S. as children. In an exchange with reporters, he said he had spoken to Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and that both are “on board” with one. He also confirmed that money for a border wall would not be a prerequisite for an agreement, telling reporters that funding for his pet project would come “a little bit later.”
He seemed optimistic that the deal he said had not yet been finalized would soon be completed, announcing that “something will happen” and “we’re fairly close.” Schumer, too, seemed hopeful, telling his conversation partner, “Oh, it’s going to work out. And it’ll make us more productive too.”
The New York senator also relayed some of his conversation and negotiation from his Wednesday evening dinner with the president.
“Here’s what I told him: I said, ‘Mr. President, you’re much better off if you can sometimes step right and sometimes step left. If you have to step just in one direction, you’re boxed.’ He gets that,” Schumer said.