Who’s Lying? White House Denies Kyl’s Immigration Story

Chip Reid, CBS News, June 21, 2010

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It started last week when Republican Sen. Jon Kyl said at a town hall in Tempe, Ariz. that during a recent private meeting in the Oval Office the president said: “The problem is, if we secure the border, then you all won’t have any reason to support ‘comprehensive immigration reform.'” In other words, Kyl said, the president is holding border security hostage to comprehensive reform.

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I asked Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton (subbing for Robert Gibbs) about it today at the briefing. “Kyl knows the president didn’t say that,” Burton said. He would not say exactly what it was the president DID say (Burton said he was not present at the meeting), and he deflected a question about whether Kyl lied.

Afterward Kyl’s office said the senator is sticking to his guns.

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{snip} Kyl, of course, had a small spat with the White House last week over comments he made at a town-hall meeting. Kyl, responding to a voter’s question, detailed a recent one-on-one conversation he had with the president. “They are holding [border security] hostage” over hopes for comprehensive immigration reform, Kyl said at the forum.

Kyl tells us that the comments were “taken a bit out of context,” and that the “they” he was referring to was the Left, “the president’s base,” and not the administration. “I did not try to start a fight. This meeting happened a month ago and we were talking in the context of his political problems. He was talking about how they think that if we secure the border, you guys [Republicans] won’t have the incentive to work on comprehensive immigration reform.”

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