- The Washington Times - Friday, June 15, 2018

The White House said Friday evening that President Trump misunderstood the question when he blasted Republican leaders’ immigration bill, and insisted he really does support the compromise plan that just hours earlier he said he “wouldn’t sign.”

Breaking an hours-long silence, White House spokesman Raj Shah said Mr. Trump is backing both the GOP leaders’ bill and a more enforcement-heavy version from conservatives. Both are expected to be put up for votes next week on the House floor.

“The president fully supports both the Goodlatte bill and the House leadership bill,” Mr. Shah said. “In this morning’s interview, he was commenting on the discharge petition in the House, and not the new package. He would sign either the Goodlatte or the leadership bills.”

Mr. Trump threw the House GOP into turmoil early Friday morning when, in an interview with Fox News, he rejected the “moderate” bill.

Steve Doocy, the Fox interviewer, asked about both bills, referring to one as the Goodlatte bill, sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, and the other as a more “moderate” bill.

“I’m looking at both of them. I certainly wouldn’t sign the more moderate one,” Mr. Trump replied.

Compounding matters, Mr. Trump had a chance to clean up the mess in an afternoon tweet but failed to do so, instead laying out his principles he wanted to see.

The bizarre twist is that the GOP leaders’ legislation perfectly matches Mr. Trump’s “four pillar” principles, granting legal status to perhaps 2 million illegal immigrants, funding his border wall, ending the visa lottery and curtailing the chain of family migration.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan had said they wrote the bill “hand-in-glove” with the administration.

Conservatives said Friday they expected Mr. Trump to issue a new statement cleaning up his remark.

Yet one source from a group that supports an immigration crackdown said the comment wasn’t a mistake and Mr. Trump did have misgivings.

Conservative Republicans are reluctant to tackle any bill that grants citizenship rights to illegal immigrants without Mr. Trump on board, fearing a massive backlash from conservative activists. They’re counting on Mr. Trump to provide political cover against those who will call the bill a blanket amnesty.

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