President Donald Trump privately mused that his political fanbase loves tough talk on immigration while jokingly reading out a list of crimes and made-up Hispanic names while preparing for his first speech before Congress last year, according to reports.
“Acting as if he was at a rally, he then read aloud a few made up Hispanic names and described potential crimes they could have committed, like rape or murder,” the Washington Post reported Thursday. “Then, he said, the crowds would roar when the criminals were thrown out of the country.”
The incident allegedly took place in February 2017, during the speechwriting session and in the company of both his son-in-law Jared Kushner and adviser Stephen Miller, who erupted in laughter at the president’s bit.
The White House has since denied that Trump made up Hispanic names but did say that he discussed his supporters’ enthusiasm for “crackdowns on criminal aliens” during the meeting. A third official in the report also denied that the name-calling took place.
According to the Post, Trump had wanted to employ the fiery rhetoric that he had done on the campaign trail when he said that immigrants were rapists and murderers. He was convinced, however, to tone down the language for his congressional address.
The story surfaced in a detailed report that focused on the president’s difficult relationship with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who has resisted and criticized Trump’s extreme anti-immigration measures. She has complained that Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric is getting in the way of her department achieving his policy targets, only to become the target of his vitriol herself.
Nielsen enjoys the support of other immigration hardliners within the White House, like Miller, but was reportedly roasted by the president in a 30-minute rant at a cabinet meeting earlier this month.
H/T Washington Post