Trump storms out of meeting as shutdown careens toward fourth week

President Trump abruptly left a White House negotiating session with congressional Democrats about 20 minutes into the meeting, dismissing it as a “total waste of time” as the partial government shutdown careened toward a fourth week.

The acrimonious collapse of the talks left no clear solution for ending the impasse, which has consumed Washington and raised concerns about pain for hundreds of thousands of federal workers across the country.

Top Democrats said they once again urged Trump to reopen shuttered government agencies during the abbreviated meeting. Trump refused and instead asked Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) if she would approve border wall funding within 30 days if he opened the government.

{mosads}When she said “no,” the president got up and left, according to officials in the room.

“Again, we saw a temper tantrum because he couldn’t get his way and he just walked out of the meeting,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters on the West Wing driveway.

Trump confirmed in a tweet posted as Democratic leaders were speaking that he did walk out of the meeting, saying that “Nancy said, NO. I said bye-bye, nothing else works!”

The president did indeed use the words “bye-bye” as he left the room, according to a source familiar with the meeting.

Amid falling show and chilling temperatures, Republican and Democratic leaders alike stood outside the White House to accuse one another of misrepresenting what had happened.

Schumer said Trump “slammed the table” as he left the meeting, while Vice President Pence said the president had “passed out candy” — a mix that included Butterfingers and M&Ms — and that he had not raised his voice or slammed his hand.

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told reporters Trump questioned why he was “even doing this meeting” a day after imploring Democrats during a Tuesday night address to the nation to return to the negotiating table and work out a solution.

“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, suggesting his staff had persuaded him to extend the invitation.

It’s not clear when or if negotiations will begin again. On Saturday, the shutdown will set a record for the longest in U.S. history.

Buoyed by polls showing Trump shouldering the brunt of the blame, Democrats moved ahead with votes on spending bills to reopen individual government agencies even though White House has threatened to veto them.

The House voted to 240-188 to pass a legislation that would fund the Treasury Department, IRS and certain other agencies.

Eight Republicans voted with Democrats, just one more than who voted for last week’s package to open most of the government.

The White House worked furiously over the past week to limit GOP defections, in part by holding multiple briefings to drive home their argument that a crisis of drug smuggling and illegal immigration exists at the southern border that can only be solved with a wall.

Wednesday’s bill is part of a series of votes scheduled in the House intended to build pressure on Republicans to break with Trump. Democrats have sought to highlight the economic hardship federal workers could face due to a prolonged shutdown.

“We oppose being collateral damage,” J. David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest union representing federal workers, said Wednesday at a press conference with congressional Democrats.

Trump has repeatedly claimed that federal employees support his decision to keep government agencies closed in order to extract $5.7 billion in wall funding from Congress.

Roughly 800,000 workers will miss their first paycheck at the end of the week after being furloughed or forced to work without pay. Agencies, such as the National Park Service and IRS, have been forced to suspend or cut back operations.

Ahead of the White House meeting, Trump made a rare visit to Capitol Hill to meet with Senate Republicans, ramping up the White House’s effort to keep his party unified as the effects of the shutdown grew.

Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who faces a tough reelection campaign in 2020, and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) challenged Trump over his shutdown strategy, but said the president urged them to stick with him in his standoff with Democrats.

“He urged us to remain unified,” Murkowski said.

Trump himself sought to downplay the notion that the party could grow more divided over the shutdown, saying the GOP is “totally unified” behind his wall fight.

“There was no reason for me even to be there,” the president told reporters at the Capitol after leaving the meeting.

At the same time, officials at the White House acknowledge the political danger of a prolonged shutdown and Trump raised a possible controversial way to end the crisis: declaring a national emergency that would allow him to circumvent Congress and begin building the wall.

The president asserted he has the “absolute right” to declare an emergency — something disputed by some Democrats and legal scholars — and said the “threshold” would be if he cannot reach a deal on wall funding.

“I think we might work a deal, and if we don’t we might go that route,” Trump told reporters before the meeting.

Such a declaration would allow Trump to reassign military personnel and resources to design and build the wall. While the order would almost certainly be challenged in court, it could provide an opening for both sides to reopen the government while the case is litigated.

Pence played coy about whether Trump would choose that route, saying he “has made it clear that he’s looking at that” but prefers to work out an agreement with Congress.

Trump’s team, meanwhile, is reportedly considering scrapping his planned trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 21 if the shutdown has not ended by then.

Aides are worried about the optics of Trump hobnobbing with billionaires and celebrities at the annual gathering as well as the logistics of executing a foreign trip with a staff limited in size by the shutdown, according to multiple reports.



Tags Appropriations Border wall Budget Charles Schumer Dick Durbin Donald Trump Lisa Murkowski Nancy Pelosi Shutdown Susan Collins

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