The government has been partially shut down for almost two weeks since President Donald Trump declined to sign a stopgap funding bill that would have avoided a shutdown because he disagreed with the decision of Congress not to provide the funding he'd demanded for his proposed wall along the U.S-Mexico border. If you asked the president, however, you'd learn that he believes the shutdown is a ploy to ruin his chances at re-election in 2020.
"The Shutdown is only because of the 2020 President Election," Trump wrote, in part, suggesting that Democrats are "going all out" in their campaigns against him and his policies.
Oh, and why did the president place his own name in quotation marks?
People have theories, none of them particularly flattering for a president who courts controversy on a daily basis.
The shutdown is the fourth longest in U.S. history, and there is no end in sight, despite assurances from Democrats that they will pass funding bills as soon as they take office. The inauguration of the 116th Congress today marks the first time ever that a federal shutdown will extend into two different Congresses.
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.
Presumptive House Speaker Pelosi "has zero desire to acquiesce to the President during her first hours with a gavel in hand, only solidifying the position of the Democrats against additional funding," according to CNN, and it is unlikely either Democrats or Republicans will move to compromise unless they have an incentive to do so.
According to one White House official who spoke to reporters yesterday, the shutdown "is going to go on for awhile."
According to one person with knowledge of the exchange, the president met with members of both sides of the Congressional aisle yesterday and said he can't accept Democrats' offer to reopen the government as the two sides negotiate over border wall funding, saying it "would look foolish if I did that."
Despite this, the president has continued to use his Twitter feed to make pleas for border security and blame the opposing party.
The president also took to Twitter to rant about his border wall and ended up contradicting himself on the subject of funding the wall in tweets just 11 minutes apart.
He first repeated his dubious claim that “Mexico is paying for the wall…”
And then proceeded to excoriate Democrats for not funding the wall.
Shutdown or not, neither the president nor his administration has provided a credible explanation for how the wall will be funded.