President-elect Donald Trump has already had a major disagreement with the most senior Republican politician over one of his primary policy proposals: immigration.
In less than an hour Sunday morning, Mr Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan issued completely contradictory statements regarding the New York businessman’s promise to deport millions of undocumented immigrants.
The disconnect between Mr Trump and the most senior Republican politician demonstrates the impact the President-elect will likely have on the US political system, as he says one thing to his party and says another in interviews.
Speaking with CBS News, Mr Trump said:
“What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, where a lot of these people, probably two million – it could be even three million – we are getting them out of the country or we are going to incarcerate. Be we’re getting them out of the country, they’re here illegally.
Earlier Sunday morning, Mr Ryan told CNN:
“We are not planning on erecting a deportation force. Donald Trump’s not planning on that. I think we should put people’s minds at ease: That is not what our focus is. That is not what we’re focused on. We’re focused on securing the border. We think that’s first and foremost, before we get into any other immigration issue, we’ve got to know who’s coming and going into the country – we’ve got to secure the border.”
The two contradictory statements solidify concerns held by many Americans, who are unsure of which iteration of Donald Trump will take office. As establishment politicians, such as Mr Ryan, work to normalise the New York businessman – who ran on a campaign that galvanised white supremacist support and stoked xenophobic anxieties about immigrants – he continues to stay on message.
While the two appear to be on good terms following their Thursday meeting on Capitol Hill, Mr Trump and Mr Ryan had a contentious relationship throughout the election.
Mr Ryan hesitated to endorse Mr Trump as he quickly tore through the Republican primaries. Following the release of footage that captured Mr Trump bragging about sexual assault, Mr Ryan cancelled all of his campaign appearances with the then-candidate, but still did not revoke his endorsement.
Mr Trump responded in kind, actively supporting Mr Ryan’s opponent in the Wisconsin primaries before offering his somewhat performative endorsement of the House Speaker.
Mr Trump made it clear in his campaign that he intends to dismantle the political establishment in Washington. And while he appears friendly in photo ops with his new colleagues, he still has yet to be wrangled when left to his own devices.