Former President Trump on Monday railed against the bipartisan border agreement and took aim at Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), a key negotiator, for his role in brokering the deal.
In an interview on “The Dan Bongino Show,” Trump denied endorsing Lankford’s candidacy in 2022 — despite doing so publicly — and did not rule out endorsing a primary opponent when Lankford is up for reelection in 2028.
“I think this is a very bad bill for his career, especially in Oklahoma,” Trump said about Lankford when asked whether he would back a primary challenge to the senator.
“I won in Oklahoma,” Trump said. “I know those people. They’re great people. They’re not going to be happy about this. Nobody’s going to be happy about this, but the people in Oklahoma are, these are serious MAGA, these are serious people. They are not going to be happy about this, Dan, when they see this. This is crazy. This is lunacy, this bill.”
Senate negotiators unveiled the 370-page national security legislation Sunday evening after months of negotiations. The bill includes funding for Ukraine, Israel and other foreign policy priorities, as well as significant changes aimed at tightening enforcement at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The border component includes provisions to raise standards for asylum screening and to process claims faster, ends the practice known as “catch and release” and provides the administration with new emergency authority to close the border to most migrants when crossings reach a set threshold. It also seeks to make it easier for migrants to get work authorization and eliminate the immigration court backlog.
The bill has faced significant pushback from progressives and Trump allies in Congress, and House Republican leaders have said it would be dead on arrival in the lower chamber. Still, the Senate plans to take the first procedural vote on the legislation this week.
Ahead of the bill text’s release, Trump had attacked the prospect of the legislation, branding it as a political victory for Democrats ahead of the 2024 election — a message he repeated in Monday’s interview.
“This is a gift to Democrats, and this, sort of, is a shifting of the worst border in history onto the shoulders of Republicans. That’s really what they want. They want this for the presidential election, so they can now blame the Republicans for the worst border in history,” Trump said.
Lankford has fiercely defended the bill and said that if Trump returned to the White House, it would give him the tools to manage the border. He also lamented Speaker Mike Johnson’s (R-La.) rush to disavow the legislation before even having a chance to read it.
“The key aspect of this, again, is, are we, as Republicans, going to have press conferences and complain the border’s bad and then intentionally leave it open after the worst month in American history in December?” Lankford said in a Monday interview on “Fox & Friends.”
“Now we’ve got to actually determine, are we going to just complain about things? Are we going to actually … change as many things as we can if we have the shot?” he added.
“I’ve had some Republicans say, ‘Well, this will make Joe Biden whole [on immigration].’ I don’t think anyone is going to see Joe Biden as the border security president. I just don’t think there’s any chance of that. Because what we’ve seen the last three years is an open border like our country’s never experienced. So I don’t think when we pass this bill everybody’s going to suddenly think he’s the savior of the closed border,” Lankford told reporters last week.