The New York Post put it bluntly:
“Preparing his first speech to Congress, President Trump wanted to include harsh, campaign-style rhetoric on immigration — and made up criminals with Hispanic names, predicting the audience would go wild when he talked about tossing them out of the US.
Huddling in February 2017 with son-in-law Jared Kushner and adviser Stephen Miller, an anti-immigration hardliner, Trump told them that the tough talk on illegal immigrants was irresistible red meat for his MAGA-hat-wearing base, The Washington Post reported.
“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. Then, he said, the crowds would roar when the criminals were thrown out of the country,” the paper reported, citing sources.
Kushner and Miller laughed aloud at his performance, the sources said.
But Trump reluctantly agreed with suggestions from other aides that he tone down the rhetoric on immigrants, whom he referred to as rapists, murderers and drug dealers on the campaign trail.
A White House official told the paper that the president did discuss the “crowd enthusiasm for crackdowns on criminal aliens” during the preparations, but denied that Trump used made-up Hispanic names.
The anecdote came in a lengthy report on tensions between Trump and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, whom he has repeatedly berated for not completely stopping the flow of illegal immigrants into the US.
At about the same time that Trump spoke to Congress, Nielsen complained to colleagues and her boss at the time, DHS head John Kelly, about what she thought was Trump’s inept attempt to impose a travel ban and calls for a border wall, which she predicted would never be built.
She also told staffers that Trump’s anti-immigrant remarks made it harder for DHS to do its job.
Trump began his regular attacks on Nielsen earlier this spring, blaming her personally after the number of border crossings ticked up after a period of decline.