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A Deal on DACA Would Be the Ultimate Test of Trump's Base

Is there a deal on DACA? Or no deal?
Image: Supporters cheer as President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Phoenix
Supporters cheer as President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Phoenix on Aug. 22.Nicholas Kamm / AFP - Getty Images

First Read is your briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.

WASHINGTON — Is there a deal on DACA? Or no deal? Right now, the answer appears to be in the eye of the beholder. Last night, Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi released a statement after their dinner with President Trump, saying they agreed “to enshrine the protections of DACA into law quickly, and to work out a package of border security, excluding the wall, that’s acceptable to both sides.”

But then White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders pushed back. “While DACA and border security were both discussed, excluding the wall was certainly not agreed to.” And this morning, Trump himself tweeted that “no deal was made.”

But Trump’s following tweets on the subject SURE SOUNDED like the deal that Democrats first described — “massive border security would have to be agreed to in exchange for consent”; “the wall, which is already under construction in the form of new renovation of old and existing fences and walls, will continue to be built”; “does anyone really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people…”

Yet here is the reason why Trump striking any kind of deal on DACA will be so hard: He’s already received a tremendous amount of blowback from his base of conservatives and immigration hardliners:

  • Breitbart News: “Trump Caves On DACA, Wants ‘Quick’ Amnesty For 800K Illegal Aliens” — with the front page of the news site calling the president “Amnesty Don.”
  • Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa: “If AP is correct, Trump base is blown up, destroyed, irreparable, and disillusioned beyond repair. No promise is credible.”
  • Fox News’ Sean Hannity: “If reports true 100%. I blame R's. They caused this. They wanted him to fail and now pushed him into arms of political suicide--IF TRUE.”
  • Laura Ingraham: “THE ART OF THE STEAL: Let's hope that Pelosi & Schumer misrepresented the #DACA deal”

Immigration is an issue that the Trump base DOES care about

Do remember, while Trump has been squishy on so many policy issues — taxes, health care, Middle East intervention — he was always more consistent on immigration during the 2016 campaign. And that consistency was taking the most hardline view possible. Here’s what he told one of us in August 2015:

TODD: You'll rescind the Dream Act executive order, the DACA?TRUMP: We have to. We have to make a whole new set of standards. And when people come in, they have to come in —TODD: You're going to split up families. You're going to deport children?TRUMP: Chuck — no, no. No, we're going to keep the families together. We have to keep the families together.TODD: But you're going to kick them out?TRUMP: They have to go.

We’re fully aware of that old line from Trump: “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” Well, he’s going to put that loyalty to the test on DACA, if there’s ultimately a deal.

Flynn’s son is a subject in the Russia probe

From NBC’s Carol Lee, Julia Ainsley and Ken Dilanian: “Michael G. Flynn, the son of President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, is a subject of the federal investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election and possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign, according to four current and former government officials.”

“The inquiry into Flynn is focused at least in part on his work with his father's lobbying firm, Flynn Intel Group, three of the officials said. It's unclear when the focus on Flynn began.”

More: “Flynn's status as a subject of the Russia investigation widens the publicly known scope of the probe. NBC News has reported that those under investigation have included the elder Flynn and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. Others under scrutiny by special counsel Robert Mueller include Carter Page, a Trump campaign ally; Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and senior White House adviser; and the president's son, Donald Trump Jr.”

And speaking of the father Flynn, here’s the Wall Street Journal: “As President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn promoted a controversial private-sector nuclear power plan in the Middle East that had once involved Russian companies, according to former security-council staffers and others familiar with the effort.”

Trump heads to Florida

President Trump arrives in Fort Myers, Fla., at 10:40 am ET to receive a briefing on Hurricane Irma relief efforts. He then heads to Naples, Fla., at 11:40 am ET before returning back to DC.