Republican Says Trump is 'Incapable' of Articulating a Plan to end Government Shutdown

Former Rep. Charlie Dent, a Republican from Pennsylvania, is among the latest critics to weigh in on President Donald Trump's inability to articulate a plan to end the government shutdown.

"He is incapable of articulating a plan to establish operational control of the border, which is far more expansive than just simple barriers or walls," Dent told CNN on Saturday after stating that the "president's own rhetoric is not helpful."

In an announcement on Saturday Trump essentially reiterated his previous proposals, and kept his demand for money for the wall.

Trump famously promised that Mexico would pay for the wall. It was a piece of tub-thumping that his supporters, many of whom hate and fear immigrants and thrill at the idea that they might be punished, loved. But it had no bearing on reality.

"The president's own rhetoric is not helpful," said Dent. "He is completely incapable of articulating a plan to establish operational control of the border, which is far more expansive than simple barriers or walls. So I think that's been a big part of the problem – the president's own rhetoric.

"I was one of the original co-sponsors of the Security Fence Act of 2016, so I know a little bit about this issue. I think there's an easy path forward here for both sides to come to an agreement. It's a tragedy that we've had to go through a government shutdown all these days to get to this point.

"This isn't that hard."

On Saturday, CNN filmed Trump reiterating his same stance before heading to Dover Air Force Base:

"We have a lot of people in caravans coming up," Trump told reporters. "If we had a wall, we wouldn't have a problem. But we don't. We have too many open areas. The walls that we fixed and the walls that we built hold beautifully. Everybody knows that walls work. The border patrol has done an incredible job. But we need the help and backup of a wall."

Granholm countered Whitfield's reminder that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said there is no funding for Trump's wall:

"What about this does he not understand?," said Granholm. "People who are coming are coming largely to proclaim asylum. And they don't do it at unwalled portions of the border; they do it at the ports of entry. I don't know how many times this has to be pointed out to him, that a wall will not fix that. A wall will not fix the bringing across of drugs when 90 percent of them are brought across in vehicles.

But Trump says the wall is a detractor to drugs and bad actors, responded Whitfield.

"But he's wrong," added Granholm. "That's the problem. He can say that all he wants, but the facts are in the opposite direction. What will help is better detection and better security. We can put money into drones. And yes, we should have more immigration judges, which the Democrats will be funding.

"But just because he continues to repeat a lie doesn't mean it's true and doesn't mean that we should be funding something that is ineffective and a lie."

Granholm also said "movement on both sides," would of course, be good for the 800,000 federal workers not working or receiving a paycheck. It also depends upon how the term "wall" is defined, too, she added:

"Remember that the president had originally asked for $1.6 billion in his budget request; the Democrats offered to give him that. In this Homeland Security budget, they've offered $1.3 billion for border security and now they're going to add another billion on top of that for other border security type of measures – including technology.

"I think it will all come down to how you define the word 'wall.' Is it an electronic barrier and Democrats are willing to provide funding for that? Or is it purely a brick-and-mortar wall? To me, that is to be the crux of it and if he puts the DACA solution on the table, that's very positive."

Whitfield let Dent have the last word. He said there appears to be some wiggle room for negotiation, which should take priority:

"It seems we're at the point, Fredricka, where there can be at real negotiation. I've said all along that the way out of this thing is to reopen the government and then simply negotiate simply $2 or $3 billion at the end of the day for border security. Now we have to define that. That could include some barriers, border agents, technology, all kinds of things. In exchange for that, for real protections to TPS and the DAVA populations."

Dent added that he doesn't think Democrats will agree to the high billions in potentially funding the wall.

"But I do think they'll be under some tremendous pressure to agree to some number between $1.6 and $5.7 (billion). So they're going to have to take a number pretty soon. The question is what for."

Editor's pick

Newsweek cover
  • Newsweek magazine delivered to your door
  • Unlimited access to
  • Ad free experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts
Newsweek cover
  • Unlimited access to
  • Ad free experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts