RUSH: Hiya, folks. Great to have you with us. Rush Limbaugh, the most eagerly anticipated radio broadcast in media presentation each and every day in the United States. Appointment radio for over 27 million Americans, and it’s great that you are in the group. It’s 800-282-2882 if you want to be on the program. The email address, [email protected]

By necessity, we pick up where we left off yesterday. And where we left off yesterday was trying to figure out just what the heck went on in the White House yesterday. There was this remarkable cameras allowed in the room for at least 45 minutes, maybe a full hour, of what turned out to be a meeting on immigration, chaired by Donald Trump, the president of the United States.

And the way these things happen, it was in the Cabinet Room, and there were Republicans in there from the House and Senate, Democrats in there from the House and Senate. By the way, I have done a little research, and it appears — I can’t say for certain, certain, certain here, but it appears that everybody in that room is a supporter of amnesty, to one extent or another. Every Republican, House and Senate, every Democrat — well, we know the Democrats are all full-in on comprehensive immigration reform, which means amnesty for all of them. And many of the Republicans, in fact most of them, were also pro-amnesty, pro-comprehensive immigration reform in that meeting.

Now, the way these things normally happen, the attendees take their seats and the media is permitted in for five minutes or so to get the pictures that sets the stage and show everybody what’s going on. And then after some yuks and the media shouting questions at the president, the media is ushered out. Well, that didn’t happen yesterday. After the media shouted their usual five minutes of yuk-yuk questions, Trump began the meeting and didn’t kick the media out, did not ask them to leave.

And for a while you could see that several of the attendees weren’t quite sure what was going on, ’cause the media’s never in these meetings. I don’t care who the president is or has been, the media is never in these things. They’re always asked to leave after a relatively short time.

And so Trump starts the meeting, and the media stays. And one of the most amazing things about it is the media shut up during the whole meeting. The media didn’t pipe up, start asking people questions. They were stunned as well. They kept waiting, I’m sure, to be told to scram. Many of them were probably thinking, “This idiot Trump has forgotten to kick us outta here.” You know they’re thinking that. The Democrats are sitting there saying, “Wait a minute. Is this a trap? Or does he not know what he’s doing?” And so everybody was very guarded at first in what they said.

Then gradually it slowly dawned on everybody that the media wasn’t going to be asked to leave. And so people did their best — and this is very, very hard to do — they did their best to just pretend the media wasn’t there.

Now, I have mentioned a couple of things about President Trump ever since the campaign began. And one of the things, I’ve tried to tell people who Trump is, particularly those who don’t understand him and don’t want to understand him, that you cannot separate Donald Trump the person from Donald Trump the performer. And some people get this and watch what Trump did accordingly and think it’s bad, because if you are performing, somehow you’re not genuine.

If you are performing, you have an audience in mind. If you are performing, you are very self-conscious. If you’re not performing, you’re not self-conscious, and you just be who you are and let the chips fall. And I think Trump was performing yesterday in many ways. Now, there are two takes on this meeting yesterday. And I want to offer both takes. I want to offer both sides and see where you come down on this.

Now, one take is that Donald Trump would not suddenly forget who he is in a meeting with House and Senate, Democrat, Republican leaders. Donald Trump wouldn’t all of a sudden forget the source of his political power in any deals made in the area of immigration. Donald Trump could not possibly believe that he could abandon his three-year position on immigration and still maintain the support of his base. Donald Trump just could not be that obtuse. He could not do that. And, therefore, Trump wasn’t doing that.

What Trump was doing was deftly outmaneuvering the Democrats yesterday and deftly, skillfully outmaneuvering the media. That yesterday’s meeting was a televised trap undermining the Democrats’ narrative that Trump is stupid and unstable and unfit. That yesterday’s meeting was Trump’s idea, in fact, and that it was hatched at the last moment in order to provide a reaction to the allegations being made about Trump and the White House in this idiotic book by Michael Wolff.

And so everything that happened yesterday had a performance objective, and that objective was to create as much video, have as much time with Trump chairing a meeting and appearing to be as normal as anybody else in the world is and as nice and as open and as cooperative and as engaged and as informed as anybody is on any of these public policy issues for the express purpose of undermining that book by Michael Wolff.

And now with that out of the way, now that Trump has done that, and now that it’s out of the way and now that some in the media are praising it, some in the media are saying, “This is the president we always thought we were gonna get. We always thought we were gonna get this great negotiator.” Some on CNN, Wolf Blitzer couldn’t contain himself, he was so ecstatic and so happy that Trump allowed the media in for the whole meeting and that he should do it more.

And Dana Bash and Gloria Borger, their first reaction was (paraphrasing), “Man, oh, man, this is wonderful. This is the kind of president we thought we were gonna get.” Art of the Deal, negotiator, open to all ideas, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Everybody took their prejudices into this. I’m talking about in the analysis of it. Everybody put their expectations on the table and then analyzed what happened yesterday according to their expectations and their prejudices. I mean, everybody has prejudicial attitudes about Trump and everybody else.

So, anyway, Trump does what he does yesterday. This is take one, now. There’s another take of this coming, so hang on. With that out of the way, Trump can now negotiate from a position of strength, because, according to take one, Trump didn’t commit himself to anything yesterday. Not really. And after the meeting was over, there wasn’t really anything substantively different than when the meeting began. Oh, yeah, Trump said some things about, “I’ll sign whatever you send me.” But nobody’s gonna be sending him anything any time soon.

And, besides, Trump can always say, “No, I didn’t say that,” or, “Well, yeah, I said it, but I did it to draw you out. I never intended…” (interruption) You really think that? Nothing really changed other than the perception of Donald Trump yesterday. So after Trump sweeps the Wolff book aside, what are we left with? The economy is booming and the president’s made himself a force to be reckoned with. Not only that, but the Democrat collusion with the FBI and the DOJ is too well documented to ignore or deny, and indeed Dianne Feinstein released the testimony from Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS.

By the way, a lot of people are asking, “Why did she do it, Rush? What’s the point? I don’t get the purpose.” Well, we can get into the nuts and bolts of this, but the primary reason is this. There’s still some people that haven’t testified, folks, including among them Jared Kushner-Trump. (I’m sorry: Jared Kushner.) So any of these witnesses who are yet to testify can look at what Simpson said and decide whether they want to corroborate it or not. That’s the danger in publicizing testimony of witnesses in closed-door hearings.

So now that Simpson’s put certain things on the record, regardless what they are, it will affect. This why Grassley’s upset, and that’s why Feinstein did it. She did it to screw up the rest of the hearings and the rest of the fact-finding. Because the bottom line is this whole Fusion GPS-Steele-Trump dossier thing is falling apart big time. So now part of take one is after the meeting yesterday we’re left with the president running the show. He is in charge of things, he is in command of things, and the Democrats are out there now playing defense.

The defense got roped in.

The Democrats got roped in.

They thought they were gonna be meeting with a blundering dunderhead fool, and they found out just the opposite. Now, I know that there’s some Drive-By Media people say, “Hey, if this is Trump as a negotiator, then we’ve been sold the biggest bill of goods in the world because this didn’t go well at all.” I mean, there’s all kinds of people opining on this. But take one is that Trump just hit a grand-slam home run yesterday by nuking the Wolff book in the only way it could have been nuked and that he got his needs and demands on immigration in public, something that most Americans understand.

And because the president does understand the source of his power — meaning he understands why the base that he has voted for him, his role in the Constitution, how to deal with Democrats, Trump is in the driver’s seat — he shocked and surprised everybody yesterday. And you look at America outside that meeting. Jobs are going through the roof. More and more corporations are announcing big bonuses because of the tax cut that has been signed into law. Deregulation is happening.

The courts? Once again, a judge has stopped Trump’s DACA move, and this has got people outraged. Trump got it right with ISIS. He got it right with the Paris accords and climate change. You know, it’s getting so bad that Stephen Hawking… This poor man. I honestly don’t… This is why we need to redefine “smart,” which is a recurring theme. Stephen Hawking, celebrated to be/reputed to be the most brilliant man in the world. He’s a physicist, and he said yesterday that we’re headed for a boiling hot planet because we pulled out of the Paris accords!

That we’re on the way to becoming Venus. He said, if you want to know what we’re headed for, just take a look at Venus — and it’s not because of greenhouse gases primarily. It’s because we pulled out of the Paris accords! The Paris accords were nonbinding on anything. They were just a bunch of phony promises that nations around the world made committing to reducing greenhouse gases, but they’re meaningless because they were just targets. They were not commitments in any way.

And yet according to Hawking, pulling out of that means we’re on the verge of a boiling, uninhabitable planet. And this guy’s considered the smartest man in the world. And it is just sad. Trump’s on the right side of that issue. He’s right with jobs, right with taxes, right with deregulation. He got it right with ISIS, right on pulling out of the Paris accords. He’s in a position now to unravel the Iran deal fiasco, and he’s not gonna cave on immigration. In fact, let’s go back to what I actually said on the fly yesterday afternoon when this thing was all over.

Grab audio sound bite number 1 and hit it.

RUSH ARCHIVE: It was a brilliantly conceived and flawlessly executed rebuttal to this stupid Wolff book. The pictures tell the tale. Trump is in the room dominating it, controlling it. He is cooperative. He is open. He’s tolerant. He’s understanding. He’s in total command of over 45 minutes of televised meeting on immigration. He is totally informed on the issues. … So after you watch this, how would you react to anything in the Wolff book characterizing Trump as just the opposite of this? And this was the purpose of this today. It was not about immigration. It was to counter the Wolff book. It was to get rid of it, it was to toss it aside, it was to rebut it. It was to nuke it. It was to dispel it. It was to render it meaningless and to have it seen for what it is: A pack of lies.

RUSH: That is take one. Take two is Trump doesn’t know what he’s doing. Trump is out of his element. Trump doesn’t even know what’s on the table in immigration. Trump doesn’t even know the issues. If somebody would have signed something yesterday, Trump would have been totally rolled by Dianne Feinstein. Dianne Feinstein said, “You know what? I want a clean DACA bill, and we come back and do a full-fledged comprehensive reform.” Trump said, “I can go for that,” and Kevin McCarthy said, “No, no, no, no, Mr. President!

“Mr. President, what she’s suggesting here has no wall in it, no security!” Take two is that Trump was on the verge of getting rolled yesterday because he really doesn’t care about immigration or anything else. All he cares about is being loved and being liked. All he cares about is being seen as in charge and this ace negotiator. Take two says that Trump held a meeting to show that he’s in charge and instead demonstrated he doesn’t know what he’s doing, demonstrated that he’s out of his league. That’s Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine.

“In the hope of proving he is not the semiliterate ignoramus numerous media have depicted him to be, Donald Trump held a televised meeting with members of Congress to discuss immigration. It was … the president’s very own idea.” Instead of showing he’s in charge, he instead proved he’s clueless and is dangerous. He has fooled practically everybody who voted for him who believed he meant all of that on the wall and on immigration, and that meeting yesterday proved that Trump doesn’t care. He said he will sign anything they send him.

That’s all he wants to do is sign bills, because in Trump’s limited view, that is how presidents are determined as successes or failures, is how much legislation they sign. So Trump just wants something he can sign, and he admitted that. Chatsworth Osborne Jr., Tucker Carlson, Fox News Channel last night, “After what I saw on television today, I have to ask President Trump, ‘What was the point of you running? What in the world do you think you’re doing? Are you willing to sell out your base on the seminal issue that got you elected that easily? If so, why did you even want to run?”

Take two continues, but I have to take a break.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Tucker Carlson, Fox News last night, his own show, as we continue take two on the Trump meeting yesterday. “Congress is full of people from both parties who believe the point of our immigration policy is to provide cheap labor to their donors and to atone for America’s imaginary sins against the world. They couldn’t care less about immigration’s effect on you or your family. This is the same people the president now says he trusts to write the immigration bill, the one he will sign no matter what it says?”

So what was the point of running for president? Chatsworth wants to know. He then said, “You’ll remember the president also ran on his skills as a negotiator, and he clearly has skills as a negotiator. But where were they today?” And there’s more, and they are scathing, practically accuses Trump of selling out on the issue that will end up destroying the United States as founded. What’s your take?

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: I’m gonna present some more details here from take two. I have other sources here to share with you, plus the audio sound bites weighing in on this. Aaron Blake at the Washington Post: “We Got a Glimpse of Trump Negotiating Today. It … Wasn’t Great.” It didn’t go well. “[I]t’s pretty clear that Trump isn’t wedded to his position on, well, anything. The border wall seems more like an opening bid. If Trump has shown us anything, it’s that he just wants to sign bills and make sure the base doesn’t hate him for it.

“So as long as he can plausibly say he fought the good fight for the border wall — even if he didn’t — it seems he’s ready to just get it over with and claim a legislative win. Which is generally okay! … But Trump has repeatedly assured us that he knows this stuff better than almost anyone and that he’s the world’s preeminent negotiator. What we saw Tuesday was neither of those things.” That’s Aaron Blake in the Washington Post. There are other appraisals.

Yuval Levin writing at National Review. “Was There Any Progress? … Near the end, as Trump finally began to talk about sending the press out of the room, he actually made his malleability explicit. Throughout the meeting, Republicans looking for some leverage for border security measures tried to get [Trump] to draw some red lines they could point to, and insisted they couldn’t pass anything he would not approve of. They were practically begging him to say he had some demands.

“But at the end, asked by a reporter if something in the course of the discussion had changed his position on anything, [Trump] said: ‘My positions are going to be what the people in this room come up with. I am very much reliant on the people in this room. I know most of the people on both sides, have a lot of respect for the people on both sides. And my… And what I approve is going to be very much reliant on what the people in this room come to me with. I have great confidence in the people.

“‘If they come to me with things that I’m not in love with, I’m gonna do it, because I respect them,’” and then he said he’s willing to take the heat for that. He told these people to go out and produce whatever they want; bring it back to him. He’ll sign it and take the heat. “The congressional participants in this discussion certainly seemed taken aback by it, even a little stunned at first. Senator Lindsey Graham described the meeting to a reporter as ‘the most fascinating meeting I’ve been involved with in twenty plus years in politics.’

“And yet, when they step back from what happened in front of the cameras … I think they’ll conclude that absolutely no progress whatsoever was made in any direction.” This is Yuval Levin writing that no matter what was said, nothing changed. There wasn’t any progress. There were no concrete ideas presented. In fact, many people have said this thing never got down to the nitty-gritty. This was like a whole meeting of-five-minute openers where nothing specific was ever really touched on, and the president didn’t list any requirements or demands.

“Quite a spectacle, but not much more. The reality-show character of the Trump presidency makes it hard to know if there is too much going on or too little.” So that’s your average take from the Never-Trumper quarter in conservative media. Not all of National Review is Never Trumper, but Yuval Levin would have to be (I think) safely put inside that group. His point was that was the biggest nothing burger in the world when you get right down to it.

Now, that take did not touch on whether or not Trump succeeded in deflecting any of the allegations of the Wolff book. So let’s hit the audio sound bites. We just played for you what I said yesterday immediately after televised coverage of the meeting ended, where I said, “It’s a brilliantly, conceived flawlessly executed rebuttal to the Wolff book,” blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. So right after this program ended yesterday and all night long on cable news, what do you think became the conventional wisdom in the Drive-By Media?

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Was this a show just because Michael Wolff knocked his block off?

GLORIA BORGER: They want to counter the Michael Wolff narrative. They wanted to show him as somebody in charge.

JOE CONCHA: It’s a great retort from the president to those who say from afar that he’s incapable of doing the job.

HOWARD DEAN: I think they did it because they were on defense about whether the president was sane or not.

ANN COULTER: He was clearly trying to overcome the bad press of this Michael Wolff.

JEFFREY TOOBIN: “Look! He can hold a meeting! He’s not crazy!” It did show a different (crosstalk) picture than Michael Wolff.

WOLF BLITZER: Rebutting the narrative we got from this new explosive book.

NICHOLAS JOHNSTON: …pushback to what was in the Wolff book. It’s a perfect way to respond to some of the allegations.

MARC THIESSEN: This meeting was a complete repudiation of Michael Wolff’s thesis in a single hour.

JAKE TAPPER: If you’re wondering if pushing aside those concerns was as least partly the point of these on-camera negotiations for the “Bill of Love,” you’re not being cynical. You’re being correct.

RUSH: What that’s called, folks, is show prep for the rest of the media. They wait for my take on this in the Drive-By. When it comes to Trump, they wait for my take to find out what Trump supporters are gonna say about this. They wait for my take and then they run with it on their own. John King at CNN just moments ago on his program Inside Politics…

KING: What to make of this conservative revolt? Trump backers are aghast after listening to the president say he would be happy to sign an immigration bill that gives legal status, perhaps even citizenship, to the undocumented.

RUSH ARCHIVE: I’m gonna tell you right now. I’m gonna go on record right now. This is the only thing Donald Trump could do to possibly derail himself.

RUSH: Well, that happens to be true.

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