Chuck Schumer Caught on Hot Mic Revealing How He Forced Trump to Defend DACA

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer makes a point to President Donald Trump in the Oval Office as Marc Short, White House director of legislative affairs, looks on during a meeting between the president and congressional leaders, in Washington, D.C., on September 6. Alex Wong, Getty

Senator Chuck Schumer is telling other lawmakers on Capitol Hill that President Donald Trump will side with the Democratic Party—as well as the vast majority of Americans—and defend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program his predecessor created to protect young undocumented immigrants from deportation.

"He likes us," the Senate minority leader said Thursday of the president, during an exchange caught by a hot mic on the Senate floor, and broadcast by C-SPAN. "He likes me, anyway."

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Schumer, apparently talking to a fellow lawmaker and several of his own aides, revealed the advice he gave the relatively new president: Working with the Democratic Party will help him in the long run.

"Here's what I told him: I said, 'Mr. President, you're much better off if you can sometimes step left and you can sometimes step right,'" he continued. 'If you have to step in just one direction you're boxed!'"

"He gets that," Schumer added, noting the president seemed willing to work with Democratic leaders on the issue of immigration. "Oh, it's gonna work out. And it'll make us [Democrats] more productive, too."

Wednesday night's dinner wasn't the first productive trip Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have taken to Trump's White House. The two Democrats struck a deal with the president last week to continue funding the federal government, while lifting the debt ceiling and providing billions of dollars in relief for the victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. That initial meeting is expected to provide the Democratic Party with a stronger hand in the political bargaining process down the road, as Republicans will be forced to compromise with the minority party once again in just three months.

Schumer and Pelosi having a seat at the president's table may signal Trump's willingness to work with both parties. Fifteen percent of Americans would like DACA recipients—commonly referred to as DREAMers (the DREAM Act, or Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors, offered many of the same protections as DACA but never passed Congress)—to be deported from the country, but 58 percent say those who meet basic requirements should receive citizenship, according to a Politico poll released earlier this month.

Meanwhile, the vast majority of Americans say DREAMers should be protected from deportation, with or without a pathway to citizenship: 84 percent of Democrats, 69 percent of Republicans and 74 percent of independents say DACA recipients should be allowed to continue living in the United States.

Of course, the dinner with the Democrats could all be a presidential play for good optics.

Trump reportedly was "super upbeat" about how cable news outlets were covering his meeting last week with Schumer and Pelosi. "The press has been incredible," he said the next day, an anonymous source told Politico.