Embattled GOP Rep. Darrell Issa faced a sometimes friendly, sometimes outraged crowd of about 1,000 Saturday as the conservative who campaigned on behalf of Donald Trump said he now wishes the president would stop sending out controversial tweets.
In an apparent recognition of the narrow victory he managed to pull out in his reelection bid last year, Issa, who represents parts of San Diego and Orange counties, broke with Trump over a key immigration position. Issa is expected to face tough opposition for his reelection bid in 2018.
Issa is the wealthiest member of Congress, and he spoke to a town hall meeting at San Juan Hills High School in San Juan Capistrano in Republican leaning Orange County.
“I’m tired of people being afraid when that’s not what America’s about. We need to fix the system,” Issa said. “That includes recognizing that a lot of people that are here are for jobs that we must fill either with immigrants or with guest workers.”
The primary job of local law enforcement should not be to determine if someone is in the country legally or illegally, Issa said to cheers from the crowd. He said crime victims and witnesses should not be asked where they come from.
“When someone is a perpetrator, when they’ve been arrested, when they have gone through the process, then, before they are released we should give ICE and other agencies the opportunity to see whether or not they need to be released in the U.S. or released in their country of origin,” Issa said.
The Republican was asked why his party does not stand up to Trump and hold him accountable.
“Now that he’s the president, I have to hold him accountable and this administration accountable,” Issa said. “Would I like to have him put away his phone … would I like to take back the statements he’s made that are very difficult when we’re working with our allies and tough relationships including dealing with the immigration issue with our Mexican partners? … Yes.”
Issa said he is confidant that the current investigation will get to the bottom of allegations of possible collusion between the Russian government and the Trump presidential campaign, and added that former FBI director Robert Mueller has everything he needs to complete the investigation.
“Russia has been an evil empire since before (President) Reagan coined that term and (President Vladimir) Putin has now a decade plus of being an evil leader,” Issa said. “So, I don’t want to hear from anybody that this is a Republican problem or a Democratic problem. It’s not.”
Other topics discussed during the two-hour event included the U.S. backing out of the Paris climate agreement, proposed budget cuts to the U.S. Department of Education, health care reform, energy, and the Electoral College.
— Staff and wire reports
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