The president’s insistence on blaming Democrats for the shutdown contradicts his own statements. In December, he preemptively accepted ownership of a then-possible shutdown.
“I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck. … I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it,” he told Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer in the Oval Office on December 11.
After meeting with Trump and other Congressional leaders privately, Senator Schumer said the president threatened to keep the government closed for “months or even years” until he gets his desired border wall funding ($5 billion). Trump later confirmed this at a press briefing in the Rose Garden after the meeting.
Nancy Pelosi, who yesterday reclaimed her position as Speaker despite internal opposition within her own party, described a “lengthy and sometimes contentious conversation with the president.”
“We cannot resolve this until we open up government,” Pelosi said.
The president had a different take, however.
“I thought it was really a very, very good meeting. We’re all on the same path,” he said.
But the president confirmed to reporters that he did, in fact, say he would keep the shutdown going if necessary.
“Absolutely I said that,” Trump said during an appearance from the Rose Garden. “I don’t think it will, but I’m prepared.”
Two individuals familiar with the meeting said Trump mentioned extending the standoff “to the election.”
Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said the president will “designate his top people” to negotiate with Congress and end the shutdown.
“The news is that the president agreed to designate his top people to sit down with all the leaders’ staffs this weekend to see if we could come up with an agreement to recommend back to us — both to him and to the various leaders,” McConnell told reporters.
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That backfired quickly.