When President Trump decided to allow reporters to sit in on a major meeting on immigration policy for nearly an hour on Tuesday, he seemed eager to reach a deal in a wide-ranging conversation wide lawmakers from both sides of the aisle.
Perhaps too eager.
In a moment that was not originally included in the White House’s official transcript of the meeting in the Cabinet room, Trump told Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, that he “would like to do it” when she asked him if he’d support a “clean” bill on the 700,000 young undocumented immigrants known as ‘‘dreamers.’’ Their work permits are set to expire March 5 because of Trump’s decision to revoke President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.
Feinstein, one of the most liberal members of the chamber, asked if he would support ‘‘a clean DACA bill’’ that protects the dreamers with no other conditions, such as the building of a border wall, the president sounded amenable.
‘‘Yeah, I would like to do it,’’ Trump said.
Trump’s apparent concession so alarmed House majority leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, that he interjected himself, although he was careful only to gently contradict the president.
‘‘Mr. President, you need to be clear, though,’’ McCarthy said, leaning over from his perch to Trump’s left. ‘‘I think what Senator Feinstein is asking here — when we talk about just DACA, we don’t want to be back here two years later. You have to have security.’’
Later, again attempting to nudge the president back on track to a more conservative plan, Senator David Perdue, a Georgia Republican, made a similar pitch for precision. ‘‘We have to be very clear, though,’’ Perdue urged.
McCarthy apparently was not the only one concerned by Trump’s seeming agreement with Feinstein. When the White House released its official transcript Tuesday afternoon, the president’s line — ‘‘Yeah, I would like to do it’’ — was missing.
On Wednesday morning, the White House e-mailed out a “correction” to the transcript that restored the missing words, though they still did not appear in the transcript posted on the official White House news page.
Trump also offered a clarification later in Tuesday’s meeting — ‘‘We do a Phase 1, which is DACA and security, and we do Phase 2, which is comprehensive immigration’’ — a relieved-looking McCarthy all but leaped from his seat, pointing at Trump like a teacher whose promising student, after several false starts, finally has alighted on the correct answer.