Birthright Citizenship Story Was Prompted by a Reporter

The big story of the day is that Trump plans to end birthright citizenship by executive order. But neither the president nor the White House made an announcement to that effect. Take a look at what prompted the whole discussion.

It was Jonathan Swan of Axios who brought up the issue of birthright citizenship and then asked the president, “Have you thought about that?” Of course he has, it was a topic of discussion during the 2016 Republican primary. Swan then asked whether Trump has talked to counsel about that and where it is in the process. The president responded by saying that it is in process and that it will happen. Trump then gives Swan an “attaboy” for bringing the topic up.

Pardon my skepticism, but since when do we believe what Trump says in a moment like that? This is the same man who has pretended for years that he’s working on a fantastic reform of our health care system and great middle class tax cuts. But he has yet to actually produce any plans himself. After campaigning on the idea of ending birthright citizenship, what would you expect this president to say when asked whether he’s actually working on it?

I am simply speculating about all of this. But it is based on what we’ve seen from this president over and over again. I find it amazing that people still give him the benefit of the doubt when he says something like, “yeah, we’re working on that.”

However, now that the topic is in the news again, I suspect that an impromptu meeting on the topic will take place at the White House very soon. As we learned in an article about the president’s schedule, he regularly reacts to things in the news.

“He might read something in the paper and immediately you’d get an impromptu meeting on trade,” said a person familiar with the president’s scheduling. “It’s just more impromptu than like a month in advance you have a policy time set that you’re going to work up to.”

Beyond giving Trump a prompt about how to ramp things up with his base just prior to the midterms, that interview clip has put the reporters at Axios front and center of the biggest story of the day. I suppose you could suggest that I’ve gone from skeptical to cynical with that observation. But actual reporting on this president requires a whole new level of vigilance, which has to be grounded in something other than click bait.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60 .