Trump STORMS OUT Of Meeting TO END SHUTDOWN
President Trump slammed his hand on a table and stormed out of a White House meeting with congressional leaders on Wednesday after Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said she would not fund a wall along the southern border, dramatically escalating the confrontation over the government shutdown.
Stunned Democrats emerged from the White House meeting declaring that Mr. Trump had thrown a “temper tantrum.” The president’s allies accused Democrats of refusing to negotiate. Then he tweeted that the meeting was “a total waste of time.”
The afternoon altercation came after President Trump appeared to rally nervous Senate Republicans around his strategy to keep parts of the government closed until Democrats accede to his demand for $5.7 billion for a border wall.
Emerging from the lunchtime meeting on Capitol Hill, Mr. Trump declared that Republicans were “totally unified” even if he faced some questions about “strategy.” Largely, senators signaled that they agreed.
“There was no discussion about anything other than solidarity,” Mr. Trump said.
The president’s defiance, and his apparent success at lining up his restive party behind him — at least for now — all but ensures that the impasse will continue into the foreseeable future. Democrats reiterated their own entrenched position on Wednesday, insisting the president end the shutdown that has affected 800,000 federal workers and rippled through the economy before settling the border dispute.
Top congressional Democrats blasted Trump after the meeting Wednesday afternoon, accusing him of indifference to struggling federal workers and not trying to negotiate as the government shutdown drags on.
“Unfortunately, the President just got up and walked out,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York. “He asked Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi, ‘Will you agree to my wall?’ She said no. And he just got up and said, ‘Then we have nothing to discuss,’ and he just walked out. Again, we saw a temper tantrum because he couldn’t get his way, and he just walked out of the meeting.”
Trump was in a chummy mood when he entered the Situation Room, according to a source familiar with how things unfolded. The President passed out candy to attendees — Butterfinger and Baby Ruth bars as well as M&M’s.
Trump told congressional leaders they would find a letter at each of their chairs — a copy of the budget request the Office of Management and Budget had put together for congressional staff in Sunday’s meeting that laid out the administration’s shutdown priorities.
Then, with the letters stating their position in front of them, White House officials asked Democrats where their position stood.
Pelosi informed the President she was concerned about ports of entry, something which he agreed with. Trump said there was money allotted in the administration’s priority list that beefed up the ports of entry. But Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, also seated at the table, interjected to say that even if the ports of entry eliminated all drug smuggling, smugglers would find another way in, which is why the barrier structure is important, sparking the most heated exchange of the meeting between Pelosi and Trump.
Schumer jumped in to stress the importance of opening up the government and then negotiating on border security funding from there.
He at one point asked Trump, “Why won’t you open the government and stop hurting people?”
Trump responded bluntly, “Because then you won’t give me what I want.”
Trump then asked Democrats whether, if he opened up the parts of the government that are shut down, Pelosi would be willing to build a barrier. She declined.
A source familiar with what happened inside the room said Trump ended the meeting by standing up and announcing “bye-bye” before turning and walking out.
After Trump left the room, Pelosi and Schumer got up to leave. Vice President Mike Pence then asked for a counteroffer from Democrats — asking what they are willing to work on, so the White House would have a better idea to move forward. They didn’t offer one, something that has frustrated White House officials since they first privately offered less than $5.6 billion the day after the government shut down.
A White House official says no other meeting with Pelosi has been scheduled at this time, and a national emergency declaration is still on the table.
The meeting at the White House came just hours before the House of Representatives was expected to vote on individual bills to help reopen the government. The bills aren’t expected to go anywhere in the GOP-controlled Senate at this time but the maneuver is aimed at putting pressure on Republicans. Trump promised earlier Wednesday to veto that legislation if it reached his desk.
Pelosi, speaking alongside Schumer outside the White House, said Trump was “insensitive” to federal workers missing pay during the shutdown and alluded to Trump’s own privileged upbringing.
“He thinks maybe they could just ask their father for money, but they can’t,” the California Democrat said.
She added, “If you don’t understand financial insecurity then you would have a policy that takes pride in saying, ‘I’m going to keep government shut down for months or years unless you totally agree to my position.’ “
Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Senate’s number two Democrat, said after the meeting that “it was pretty clear” Trump’s heart was not in it.
“He said today, in the middle of this meeting, ‘I don’t know why I’m doing this. I didn’t want to do this meeting. They told me I had to do this meeting,’ ” Durbin said.
For now, at least, the president’s forceful response in the meeting and on television, has papered over cracks that threatened to upend his negotiating position.
Senator Shelley Moore Capito, Republican of West Virginia, who chairs the appropriations subcommittee on Homeland Security, said before the lunch meeting that she could potentially support reopening the government as talks continued on border security.
“I mean, I think I could live with that,” Ms. Capito said. She said she expected pressure from federal employees and voters in her state would only mount the longer the impasse drags on. “I’ve expressed more than a few times the frustrations with a government shutdown and how useless it is, so that pressure’s going to build,” she said.
But she apparently did not speak forcefully in the private lunch with the president.
Nor did Senator Pat Roberts, Republican of Kansas, who lamented on Wednesday morning that government shutdowns “never work” and turn federal workers into “pawns.” Though Senate Republicans had not reached a point of direct intervention yet, he said, “we’re getting pretty close.”
Check out our sources: