ROBERT COSTA: Hello.
I'm Robert Costa.
And this is Washington Week Extra, where
we pickup online where we left off on the broadcast.
Michael, this week TIME Magazine reported that a pastor who was part of the Trump
inaugural festivities, he's now having a safe haven in his church.
What's the story?
MICHAEL SCHERER: Our reporter, Elizabeth Dias, got this story.
And he was one of the
four pastors who prayed at the inauguration.
He's - his name's Sam Rodriguez.
a church in Sacramento.
But he's also the head of the national Hispanic Evangelical
And for a long time, he's been an advisor to, you know, Republican
politicians, sometimes Democratic politicians as well.
During the campaign, he had had meetings with Trump and he had requested two things.
He had said: Please don't deport the DREAMers, the people who had DACA.
said, please don't split up families.
And he now feels disappointed on the second point.
He feels like the immigration plans that have been put in place right now are dividing
Some people are being deported; other members of those families are staying
And so what he did in early February, at his church, is set up cots in empty
rooms for two reasons.
They call them safe havens.
For two reasons, people who are
fleeing domestic violence and people who are fearful of immigration raids can come stay
in the church.
It's slight different than a sanctuary city - or the sanctuary effort
that other churches are doing.
But it's symbolic in that even within the umbrella of the
Republican Party, of the conservative Hispanic Evangelical community, there is significant concern.
ROBERT COSTA: Do you think there's a real political concern for the Trump
He did so well in the election with Evangelicals and conservatives.
he risk now, with some of his immigration policies, alienating at least part of that group?
MICHAEL SCHERER: It's hard to say three years out from, you know, a reelect, whether
that will be a big thing.
I think one question, though, is whether this resistance spreads
within the conservative Evangelical church world from the Hispanic churches to others.
There are a couple other churches, a church in Arkansas where they're also setting up a
system where immigrants can come and stay in the church.
Interestingly, Customs and
Border Protection have kept the policy from the Obama administration which says agents
will not raid churches, hospitals or schools to get deportations.
So there's technically
here a mechanism for churches to protect people who they feel should not be deported.
ROBERT COSTA: Looking back at his speech, the big takeaway I had was the Republicans
just felt this was a little bit normal.
They like normal.
They like a president
who sounds like a Republican president.
Is this going to - is this going to hold, this dynamic?
DAN BALZ: Well, if history is any guide, it probably won't.
But, you know, Donald
Trump, President Trump, is in on-the-job training.
This is a person who came to the
White House without any political experience, any military experience.
This is brand-new.
And, you know, to some extent, he's learning as he goes.
And I would - I would think that a lot of people who watched that speech would say this
is - he's bringing something different to this than he did, for example, to the inaugural
Policies are not particularly different, but the presentation was.
And the sense - you know, we went from American carnage to a spirit of American renewal.
And that's a big rhetorical leap.
And as you say, I mean, Republicans have been hoping
for this kind of thing for, you know, the better part of six or eight months, that
But Donald Trump is somebody who seems, for the most part, to go off
course unexpectedly over a grievance or something that bothers him or who knows what.
And I think that the fear of Republicans, and probably people in the White House who
would like him to kind of settle down, is that he's uncontrollable in that way.
I mean, and to some extent, I think he assumes that that was what got him where he is, I
mean, that he didn't get there because he's a conventional politician.
So this kind of
war over who's the - who's the Trump of today and tomorrow and the next day is going to
be one that we're all going to watch.
And Republicans in particular are going to be hoping
that the president that they saw in that House chamber is the president who keeps on going.
ROBERT COSTA: Is he settling in or is he still uncontrollable, President Trump, when it
comes to his agenda, his behavior?
ALEXIS SIMENDINGER: Oh my gosh.
I think he's just - he is unscripted and innovating
every minute of every day.
The teleprompter has helped him, and maybe some better
speechwriting helped him a lot this week.
And the discipline of learning.
But he's still - this president believes that he got to the White House by being an
unconventional, non-Washington figure.
And for one evening, for an hour, he was
willing to be that kind of conventional figure.
And but then he's moving off to try
to build some support for some of this, and then trying to deal with Congress.
And I think we're still going to see lots and lots that is going to look like pure Trump.
DAN BALZ: But there's - but there's another aspect, though, which is that we know he
likes to be liked.
And he likes to be admired.
And he likes to be seen as successful.
And the degree to which he gets reinforcement for the kind of thing he did in that joint
session speech, perhaps that has a cumulative effect on the way he thinks about the job.
ALEXIS SIMENDINGER: Well, the only reason I'm saying this is because he has so many
fissures in his own party.
And he doesn't want to butt-up against those.
want to settle those arguments yet.
He's not quite sure, what should I do on entitlements?
What should I say I'm going to do on that?
What should I tell people I'm going to do
about the DREAMers?
Should I settle that?
Should I argue that case now?
On tax reform,
should I offer those additional details and really go full out?
And he hasn't done that.
ROBERT COSTA: That's a good point.
Hey, Michael, is - do you think - it seems like
Steve Bannon, the chief strategist, would like to settle some of those Republican
arguments and move it in a more nationalist direction.
But the president himself doesn't seem to wade into those ideological debates.
MICHAEL SCHERER: And not just on policy as a disagreement, but Bannon also would like
full-on war with us.
I mean, he's very much pushing the president to make his
administration a fight against the elites, a fight against the media.
And clearly Bannon on issues like how big the infrastructure bill is, whether you touch
entitlements, is not a conservative.
I mean, he's just - he's just not.
And there's a lot of evidence that Bannon's ideological approach is the rising one within
the Republican Party.
And that may, in the long run, be a winning game.
But when you have only 52 seats in the Senate and, you know, a 20- or 30-vote margin in
the House, that kind of transformational shift is a real gamble.
ROBERT COSTA: What wins out?
Who has the political capital - the Bannon
wing of the party or the House Speaker Paul Ryan wing?
DAN BALZ: I think it's hard to tell at this point.
I think Michael's right, that - I mean, Bannon has a particular view of the world.
And there is - there is support around the country, not necessarily for the stylistic
ways in which the president has approached this, but the notion of a kind of an
America-first jobs - I mean, focus on jobs for American workers who have been left
That is popular beyond just the Republican Party.
The idea of securing the borders in one way or another or doing something about
immigration, that enjoys a fair amount of popular support.
They have hurt themselves
with the travel ban and the initial way they rolled out the deportations.
concept of that, if you talk to people out in the country, they kind of like a lot
But a lot of this is how consistent they are, how well they can present this
in an attractive package.
Bannon is - you know, he's a blow-it-up kind of person.
MICHAEL SCHERER: Well, the other thing is the clock is ticking.
Trump has made enormous
promises in terms of how much better everyone's life will be now that he is president.
ALEXIS SIMENDINGER: Or already is.
MICHAEL SCHERER: Or already is, right.
And if - you know, talking
about ideas, putting forward legislation, all that's great.
But he's got two years
to start showing some results.
And if he doesn't show results the ideological
debates will shift aside and it will just be up to the next candidate to come
along and say: That failed.
Vote for me.
And we'll have change again.
DAN BALZ: And lines in that speech on Tuesday night were extravagant in the promises of
how much better things are going to be for people.
MICHAEL SCHERER: Yes.
ROBERT COSTA: Well, that's it for this edition of Washington Week Extra.
While you're online, test your news knowledge of the Washington Week News Quiz.
I'm Robert Costa, and we'll see you next time.