Trump on border wall: 'Choice between right and wrong'

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Trump administration planning to crack down on 'birth tourism': report George Conway on Trump adding Dershowitz, Starr to legal team: 'Hard to see how either could help' MORE on Tuesday argued the U.S. is facing a “growing humanitarian and security crisis” at the southern border in a primetime address designed to seize leverage over Democrats in a prolonged shutdown battle over his demand for a border wall.

In his first address to the nation from the Oval Office, Trump pressured Democrats to grant his request for $5.7 billion in wall funding by accusing the party of ignoring what he claims is an influx of drugs and criminals that can only be stopped with a wall.

“How much more American blood must we shed before Congress does its job?” Trump said. “This is a choice between right and wrong, justice and injustice. This is about whether we fulfill our sacred duty to the American citizens we serve.”

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The president implored Democrats to return to the White House on Wednesday to resume negotiations, saying “the only thing that's immoral is politicians who do nothing.”

But it appears unlikely that Trump’s nine-minute address, which made no new offers, will do much to break the impasse as the partial shutdown stretches closer to a fourth week.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats worry a speedy impeachment trial will shut out public Schiff huddles in Capitol with impeachment managers Media's selective outrage exposed in McSally-Raju kerfuffle MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump administration installs plaque marking finish of 100 miles of border wall Sanders defends vote against USMCA: 'Not a single damn mention' of climate change Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate implications MORE (D-N.Y.) rejected Trump’s argument that a crisis exists along the border and said the president is solely to blame for the shutdown.

“This president just used the backdrop of the Oval Office to manufacture a crisis, stoke fear, and divert attention from the turmoil in his administration,” Schumer said in a televised rebuttal from the Capitol.

Buoyed by polls showing most Americans blame Trump for the shutdown, Pelosi repeated her stance that she will only negotiate with Trump over border security if he decided to fund shuttered government agencies that have been closed since Dec. 22.

“President Trump must stop holding the American people hostage, must stop manufacturing a crisis, and must reopen the government,” she said.

Trump has been considering the possibility of declaring a national emergency that would allow him to circumvent Congress to build the wall. But he made no mention of those deliberations in his address, even though some anticipated he might.

Instead, the lurid and emotional language he used to describe the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border could be used to lay the groundwork for an eventual declaration, if it is made.

“This is a humanitarian crisis—a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul,” he said.

He told the stories of people who were killed by immigrants living illegally in the U.S., including one about an Air Force veteran who was raped and beaten to death with a hammer.

“I’ve held the hands of the weeping mothers and embraced the grief-stricken fathers,” Trump said. “So sad. So terrible.”

Democrats have bristled at Trump’s use of such incidents, pointing out that studies have shown immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than natural-born U.S. citizens.

Federal data also shows that illegal border crossings have fallen in recent years, numbers that Democrats have used to argue that Trump’s claims of a border crisis is overblown.

“There is no crisis, there is no invasion, there is no clear and present danger as the president would try to convey to the American people — to scare them and to justify actions otherwise not justified,” House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse poised to hand impeachment articles to Senate House to vote on Iran war powers bills sought by progressives Khanna: Timing of Iran bill being weighed against getting bigger majority MORE (D-Md.) said before the speech.

But Trump believes the wall is a winning issue with his base and his allies see delivering on his promise to build it as key to his 2020 reelection race, factors that prompted Trump to trigger the shutdown 18 days ago by nixing a budget deal that did not include wall money.

As the shutdown has dragged on, cracks have begun to emerge among congressional Republicans worried about the political fallout from its effects, including the possibility of hundreds of thousands of federal workers missing paychecks starting Friday.

Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceJFK's grandson calls Pence op-ed a 'total perversion' of Kennedy's legacy Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial Is Mike Pence preparing to resign, assume the presidency, or both? MORE and other top officials trekked to Capitol Hill on Tuesday evening before the address to urge House Republicans to “stand strong” behind the president, amid fears some GOP lawmakers could defect and support Democratic bills to reopen government.

Trump plans to join Pence on Wednesday at the weekly Senate Republican policy lunch in the Capitol, where they are expected to deliver a similar message.

Three GOP senators facing potentially tough reelection races in 2020, Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerGeorge Conway group drops ad seeking to remind GOP senators of their 'sworn oaths' ahead of impeachment trial Mitch McConnell may win the impeachment and lose the Senate Republicans will pay on Election Day for politicizing Trump's impeachment MORE (Colo.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsMitch McConnell may win the impeachment and lose the Senate Murkowski wants senators to 'really hear the case' before deciding on impeachment witnesses Republicans will pay on Election Day for politicizing Trump's impeachment MORE (Maine) and Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisSenate GOP mulls speeding up Trump impeachment trial Republicans will pay on Election Day for politicizing Trump's impeachment Koch network could target almost 200 races in 2020, official says MORE (N.C.), have all said they would support reopening the government without wall funding. Trump's decision to deliver an Oval Office address marked an unusual embrace of custom for an untraditional president.

But it shows he had decided to follow, at least for now, his aides' recommendations to use his bully pulpit to press his case for the wall after spending much of the first two weeks of the shutdown secluded inside the White House.

In addition to his Capitol Hill visit, Trump plans to travel to McAllen, Texas, on Thursday to bolster his claims about a border in crisis.

Negotiations between Trump's team and congressional Democrats are also expected to pick back up Wednesday after a 48-hour pause.

Leaders from both parties have been invited to the White House Situation Room for another session with the president. Two similar meetings last week and staff-level talks over the weekend, however, failed to produce a breakthrough.