In several tweets, Trump insisted that he stands by his signature campaign promise, a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. His comments directly contradicted his chief of staff John Kelly, who reportedly told Democratic congressional leaders that Trump had softened his views on the wall because he had previously been “uninformed.”
In a Fox News interview later that day, Kelly similarly said that Trump has “changed the way he’s looked at a number of things,” and did not deny the reports of what he said at the Capitol Hill meeting, which congressional Democrats confirmed.
“There’s been an evolutionary process that this president has gone through,” Kelly said.
Trump has been using the wall as a bargaining chip in negotiations over how to deal with undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. Democrats, who oppose the wall, have been pushing for a so-called clean bill that allows these immigrants to stay in the U.S. Without such a bill, they have threatened to not support a government funding bill.
Trump was angry following Kelly’s interview, according to CNN.
Trump in his tweets also bucked GOP congressional leaders, saying that funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which has also been hanging in the balance, should be included in future legislation, not a short-term bill funding the government.
Republican leaders attached a provision for CHIP, which has been running out of money, in hopes of getting Democrats to back what’s known as a continuing resolution, which would give Congress more time to work out a long-term spending bill.
Later Thursday morning, the White House attempted to walk back Trump’s tweet, issuing a statement affirming that the president does support House GOP leaders’ proposal for extending CHIP funding.
This article has been updated with the White House statement on CHIP funding.