Schumer: I started considering Trump deal in August

Schumer: I started considering Trump deal in August
© Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in an interview published Saturday that he began planning his shocking debt ceiling deal with President Trump back during the August recess.

In an interview with the New York Times' "The New Washington" podcast, Schumer said he was thinking about his "leverage" with Trump back in August during a family vacation.

“Even when I was on vacation with my family in August, I started looking,” Schumer said in the interview.

ADVERTISEMENT

“What’s our leverage?” Schumer said he asked himself. “We only had one thing as leverage at that point, which was the debt ceiling.”

That leverage paid off. Last week, Trump stunned Republicans by accepting a deal with Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to raise the debt ceiling, finance the government through mid-December and fund aid for Hurricane Harvey victims just hours after House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanAmash storm hits Capitol Hill Debate with Donald Trump? Just say no Ex-Trump adviser says GOP needs a better health-care message for 2020 MORE (R-Wis.) said that such a deal was impossible.

“We’ve got all this devastation in Texas; we’ve got another unprecedented hurricane about to hit Florida. And [Democrats] want to play politics with the debt ceiling?” Ryan said earlier in the day.

“I think that’s ridiculous and disgraceful that they want to play politics with the debt ceiling at this moment when we have fellow citizens in need, [so we can] respond to these hurricanes so that we don’t strand them.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Schumer told The Times that he and Trump could talk "right at" each other, due to their shared New York heritage, pointing to a meeting after Trump won the election.

“The one thing we have is we’re New Yorkers,” Schumer said. “We’re pretty direct, and we talk right at each other.”

“I said to President-elect Trump: ‘Look, we’re not going to obstruct you, just for the sake of obstruction. If you’ll work with us, as long as we can keep our values, we’ll work together,” Schumer said he told Trump last year.

Schumer also detailed the phone call he received from Trump after the deal, praising the positive media coverage of their meeting.

“I got a call early this morning,” Schumer recalled. “He said, ‘This was so great!’ Here’s what he said: ‘Do you watch Fox News?’ I said, ‘Not really.’ ‘They’re praising you!’ Meaning me. But he said, ‘And your stations’ — I guess meaning MSNBC and CNN — ‘are praising me! This is great!’”