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Mara Liasson

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Updated at 4:14 p.m. ET

President Trump is set to unveil an immigration plan that would vastly change who is allowed into the United States.

Trump will present the plan in a speech from the White House Rose Garden Thursday afternoon.

The new plan would focus on reducing family-based immigration to the U.S. in favor of employment-skill-based immigration.

But overall, the number of green cards issued under this plan would not change, and there would be no reduction in net immigration.

With a dramatic shake-up at the highest levels of the Department of Homeland Security, President Trump has signaled that he wants to get even tougher on immigration.

But how much tougher can he get?

Trump has been frustrated with the inability of DHS to stop a surge of Central American migrant families and children from crossing the Southern border.

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We're going to continue the conversation with NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson. Mara, Thanks so much for joining us.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Happy to be here.

MARTIN: What does this mean?

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

And today a pro-Trump super PAC called Great America Alliance released this ad attacking Broward County election supervisor Brenda Snipes.

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Keeping control of the House would validate President Trump's governing style and mean full speed ahead for Hill Republicans to move his agenda. But if the GOP loses its majority it will need to to go on defense to protect Trump.

When the Democrats lost the House in 2010, they rapidly saw President Barack Obama's legislative agenda die.

Veteran Democratic strategist Paul Begala doesn't think it's hyperbolic to say that "everything" is at stake for Democrats heading into Tuesday's elections.

"They always say it's the most important election of your life," he says, explaining that in the past two years, Democrats learned the consequences of being "completely shut out" as the GOP controlled both Congress and the White House.

If Democrats fail to take back the House and make significant gains at the state level, they'll be shut out again, without a say in legislation and judicial appointments.

In one respect, this is a typical midterm election — a race shaped as a referendum on the president and the party in power.

But there are so many ways in which this election is anything but typical. We've seen a surge in first-time candidates, especially women and minorities. In the past several midterms, the party in power was relatively complacent compared with the party hoping to be in power. Heading into Election Day, Democrats have an enthusiasm edge, but Republicans have been getting steadily amped up, too.

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In TV commercials and on debate stages across America, the attacks are now blistering as candidates see Election Day coming up fast.

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President Trump and his supporters have often complained about the "deep state" — a supposedly shadowy cabal of opposition bureaucrats buried deep within the government. But perhaps the biggest impediment to the president isn't the deep state at all. It's the "shallow state" — which exists right below Donald Trump at the Cabinet level.

Democrats are playing a very weak hand in the battle over Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court. They're locked out of power in Washington, D.C, and can't block the nomination thanks to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's decision in 2017 to end the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations.

President Trump left the NATO summit in Brussels this week a full 180 degrees from where he came in.

At breakfast with the NATO secretary-general on Wednesday, he called allies "delinquent" over their defense spending and rocked the summit with the charge that "Germany is a captive of Russia" because of its energy dependence.

But as he left on Thursday, Trump was singing a different song, declaring "a very successful summit," stating that "the United States commitment to NATO is very strong."

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President Trump wrapped up a tumultuous appearance at NATO in Brussels with an unscheduled press conference this morning.

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A new liberal rallying cry — "Abolish ICE!" — calls for an end to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency that enforces President Trump's immigration policies.

Many protesters held signs with the slogan at marches across the country over the weekend, and several leading Democrats echoed the grass-roots catchphrase.

Donald Trump and his party are gearing up for a hard-fought midterm election. But the president loves to campaign and has already started to raise lots of money and hold lots of big rallies for Republicans.

It's part of a larger playbook that his advisers think can keep the GOP in power this fall, and they think so far it's on track despite the president's tendency to go off script on Twitter or during political speeches.

After the demise of yet another Trump administration nomination, it's worth taking a look at lessons learned. So far, the president has tried to blame Democrats as "obstructionists" for White House physician Ronny Jackson's downfall and described Jackson on Friday as an "American hero."

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Also listening to this conversation NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson. Hey there, Mara.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hi there, Audie.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

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The 2018 election cycle has officially begun, with the first primaries being held in Texas on Tuesday.

In every campaign cycle, analysts look at the fundamentals — the political laws of gravity that, in the past, have influenced elections. In 2016, Donald Trump seemed to defy a lot of these laws, and Republicans are hoping they can do the same this year to prevent the hit that the party in power usually takes in a president's first midterm elections.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Lawmakers in Washington and Tallahassee have discussed a lot of ideas to reduce school shootings, but on the hardest questions — like what to do about guns — there is just no clear consensus.

There are few signs of clarity from President Trump, who has taken a leading role in the debate without providing strong direction to solve the problem.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

It has been more than a week since the first reports emerged about alleged domestic abuse by White House staff secretary Rob Porter. Porter denied the allegations but resigned a day later, last Wednesday. Yet, the scandal over his departure has not waned.

He was consistently at President Trump's side, charged with handling the flow of paper to the president, including sensitive information, while holding an interim security clearance. It's still not clear exactly which top White House officials knew what and when about the allegations against Porter.

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