WASHINGTON – Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump picked up another endorsement from a member of Congress after his Thursday closed-door meeting with House Republicans.
Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Texas) called Trump “authentic” and said he heard everything he needed in order to make the final decision to get behind Trump.
Marchant said Trump assured congressional Republicans that he would reverse President Obama’s executive actions, specifically the executive orders pertaining to illegal immigration known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and the expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
“I thought he was authentic. I thought he was exciting. I thought he was genuine. It’s what I needed to make my final decision, to make a formal endorsement, so we’re working on the language right now,” he told PJM on Capitol Hill after Trump’s meeting with House Republicans.
“I didn’t walk in intending to be swept off my feet but I was impressed,” he added.
Going forward, Marchant recommended that Trump’s campaign allow more one-on-one time with elected officials before his campaign events.
“Absolutely, one-on-one contact with him is usually a big convincer,” he said. “His campaign has generally not been run that way but I think after today he sees the value in getting a back-and-forth. We kind of want to know if we come up with an idea, is it going to be something they seriously consider or reject it? After today I am quite sure he and Paul [Ryan] have worked out a working relationship, not a perfect relationship, but a working relationship.”
Marchant predicted there would likely be a “healing effect” after the convention since most of his constituents supported Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) for president.
“Louie Gohmert spoke positively,” Marchant said. Rep. Gohmert (R-Texas) had endorsed Cruz.
“I mean, it’s beginning to happen and this FBI-Hillary thing is helping a lot. My grassroots people are just going nuts,” he added.
Marchant said that eminent domain would hold up the rights to construct a wall at the border in Texas, as Trump has proposed as a way to combat illegal immigration. Despite this, Marchant said Trump could make the necessary changes to ensure the nation’s existing immigration laws are enforced.
“One of the most important things Trump said today was that he would love to work with Congress. But he realizes things get blocked up and all of these executive orders that Obama has been using to change the landscape of American politics, he can go in and reverse them with our consulting and the Senate – so a lot of that will be the immigration stuff,” he said. “So he can do a whole lot of enforcement – a lot of tightening up the immigration system without building a wall. There’s a lot of work to be done administratively, etc., just telling border agents to arrest people.”
Marchant was alluding to some Border Patrol agents reportedly being directed to “catch and release” individuals stopped for crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.
Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), who attended Trump’s meeting with House Republicans, said there was no “controversy” there.
“It was fine. I mean, he didn’t say anything new. There was no controversy,” she said.
Noem was asked about a Wall Street Journal report that said a substantial amount of delegates are planning to form a coup and deny Trump the nomination at the convention.
“I haven’t heard that,” she said, adding that she does not think anything would prevent Trump from becoming the nominee at this point.
The Washington Post reported on tension at the Senate meeting between Trump and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). Flake introduced himself as “the other senator from Arizona — the one who didn’t get captured — and I want to talk to you about statements like that.” Trump reportedly threatened to start publicly attacking the senator, while Flake urged Trump to stop attacking Mexicans. When Trump declared that Flake would lose this year, the senator noted that he’s not up for re-election.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), a potential vice presidential pick and an early Trump endorser, praised the real-estate mogul’s handling of the meeting.
“There was no question that was raised that he didn’t have background data and understanding to be able to discuss it. A lot of people think this is just a bombastic campaign, but he understands this country,” Sessions said. “He understands the economy. He knows the American people are hurting – things aren’t going well and a better trade and a better immigration policy can create high wages and better job prospects for Americans.”
Sessions was satisfied with the attendance at the meeting with GOP senators. The Post noted that Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), like Flake a Trump critic, did not show, and Trump called Kirk a loser.
“I was really surprised how many came. I really thought it was a great crowd,” Sessions said. “I recognize many of our colleagues had unavoidable conflicts.”
During a campaign event this week, Trump said former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was a bad guy but was commendable for killing terrorists. His remarks were widely reported and some lawmakers criticized the comments.
“He did that so good. They didn’t read them the rights. They didn’t talk. They were terrorists. Over. Today, Iraq is Harvard for terrorism,” Trump said.
PJM asked Sessions if the Saddam comments served as a distraction from the controversy surrounding the conclusion of the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of private email.
“I’m not into the details of that. I think his message is clear and getting clearer in that the regular speeches we’ve seen now that are prepared, that reflect his detailed views, are receiving excellent reviews and he indicated we’ll see more of it that and he likes to do that,” he said.
Sessions praised Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who was present at the meeting.
“She is such a nice person and really is an asset to him. She’s not only beautiful but she’s very nice and courteous and just a delight to talk with,” he said.
Sessions was asked about Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) recommending Ivanka Trump for the vice president slot.
“I’ve heard that talk,” he responded. “She has a lot of gifts and talents and she’s certainly a loyal supporter of her father.”
Sessions predicted that Trump’s poll numbers are going to “continue to rise.”