SUSAN DAVIS, HOST:
We’ll be going back to Lulu in a moment, hear all about what’s at stake in next week’s Mexican elections. But first, politics back at home. President Trump spent much of the week fighting his own party and undermining efforts to pass immigration legislation. And it comes just as he’s seeing a rise in polling, with more and more Americans saying they’re satisfied with the direction this country’s going. NPR’s Mara Liasson joins us now. Hey, Mara.
MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hey, Sue.
DAVIS: Mara, this did seem to be a notable week in the Trump presidency. We saw for the first time a significant pushback within the party – going up against the president on the family separation policy. And the president blinked.
LIASSON: Yes, that’s very unusual. The political opposition to the administration’s practice of family separation, which was a result of their policy of zero tolerance at the border, got more pushback from Republicans than anything else he’s done. And it wasn’t just moderate Republicans in the House who were against it. It was also conservatives in the Senate. They were preparing legislation to overturn this. Orrin Hatch said, this isn’t American. And I think that’s really why this struck such a chord because it did seem to be about who we were as Americans.
And in the face of all of this pushback, Donald Trump did something very out of character. Instead of doubling down, he caved or, as the headline on Breitbart’s website said, he buckled. So immigration was about as core to Donald Trump as any other issue. You know, he’s been demonizing immigrants since the first day he announced he was running for president and said that Mexico was sending rapists over the border. And he did it again this week, had families to the White House whose loved ones were killed by illegal immigrants. The message has always been pretty clear from him. They’re coming over the border to hurt us, and they’re infesting our country, which is the word he used. But for the first time, this backfired – or at least part of the issue did.
DAVIS: But on the message, you know, the president this week and his top administration officials, like his Homeland Security secretary, Attorney General Jeff Sessions – they weren’t honest about this policy. They spent a lot of the week saying their hands were tied. This was the law. And none of that was true. Do you…