This is becoming a very easy to identify pattern. Whenever the Trump administration does something substantive, another story attributed to “officials,” or “sources within the administration” comes out boasting an outrageous statement or divide within the White House or cabinet. And here it is again.
Trump’s refugee ban expired, and new “extreme vetting” procedures are in place for 11 countries: Egypt, Iran, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. There is absolutely nothing surprising about this; Trump has been consistent on it since way before the election. But President Obama acted to increase the number of refugees accepted into the U.S., so the media is now carping that over 43 percent of refugees were from those countries.
So? Maybe Obama was wrong to bring in all those refugees, many of whom are a ready pool from which Islamic radicals can draw. Maybe Trump is right and Obama was wrong. But instead of discussing the issue, the media plays on heartstrings. From ABC News:
The Trump administration has also suspended family reunification for refugees, such as spouses and children who are sometimes separated when families flee a war-torn country. This program had a different vetting procedure, and while it’s under review to bring it up to new standards, the administration is suspending it indefinitely, according to DHS officials.
And then, the New York Times threw another stinkbomb, alleging that Chief of Staff John Kelly said if it were up to him, “the number [of refugees admitted] would be between zero and one.” This was all “according to an administration official” who, of course, was left unnamed. Their conclusion?
While some officials had predicted Mr. Kelly would be a calming chief of staff for an impulsive president, recent days have made clear that he is more aligned with President Trump than anticipated.
They go on, telling us:
For all of the talk of Mr. Kelly as a moderating force and the so-called grown-up in the room, it turns out that he harbors strong feelings on patriotism, national security and immigration that mirror the hard-line views of his outspoken boss.
Two things, which should be blindingly obvious.
First, did the New York Times expect the man who Trump picked to be with him, organize and discipline his White House, and carry out his orders and wishes, would be a man who disagrees with the president’s priorities and world view? Did they really think the words “moderating force” meant that Kelly would try to set a different policy direction than hsi boss? What chief of staff, ever, has done that? Where is it in the job description that the chief of staff gets to set policy?
Where Kelly’s bootprint can be seen, he has been a moderating force. He’s moderated those who placed fake news on the president’s desk. He’s moderated the leaks in the White House (for the most part, except the one who leaked what he supposedly said about refugees). He’s moderated the procedures required to see the president. He’s moderated who gets to attend senior staff meetings and briefings (principals only). He’s moderated Trump’s impulsivity to some degree. But he has not, nor is he expected to, change the president’s mind, or order his boss around like a child.
If Kelly did that, he’d find himself where Reince Priebus and Anthony Scaramucci ended up.
The White House, under Kelly, is a more organized, disciplined, and simultaneously, less stressful place, by all reports, except the ones leaked to the NYT.
Second, why does it matter if John Kelly privately, within the White House, expresses his personal preference for the number of refugees accepted? I don’t know if he said what the NYT reported he said, but of course they’ll ask questions as if he did. It will be widely reported that he said it, quoting the vaunted New York Times. It’s not like they’ve ever misreported anything, been flat out wrong, or had to retract major story elements or anything.
Well, that’s illuminating.
Perhaps Kelly never made the refugee comment, after all. And perhaps President Trump is doing the right thing restricting the number of refugees the U.S. accepts from those 11 countries. Perhaps Barack Obama was wrong. Perhaps the press is just out to make Trump look bad at all costs, without regard to whether it’s good for the country or not?
But that’s just crazy conspiracy talk, right?
It’s a change to the U.S.’s longstanding refugee admissions program that may mean its death knell, refugee advocates say. — a group that together made up 43.48 percent of all refugees admitted to the U.S. in fiscal year 2017. In FY 2017 — which included the end of the Obama administration and the first nine months of President Trump’s tenure, including his refugee ban — 23,357 refugees came from these 11 countries, out of the 53,716 refugees admitted.
This past summer, the Trump administration debated lowering the annual cap on refugees admitted to the United States. Should it stay at 110,000, be cut to 50,000 or fall somewhere in between? John F. Kelly offered his opinion. If it were up to him, he said, the number would be between zero and one.
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