Pelosi: Trump wants ‘a distraction,’ not a wall

House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiVeterans groups demand end to shutdown: 'Get your act together' On The Money: Shutdown Day 25 | Dems reject White House invite for talks | Leaders nix recess with no deal | McConnell blocks second House Dem funding bill | IRS workers called back for tax-filing season | Senate bucks Trump on Russia sanctions Overnight Defense: Trump faces blowback over report he discussed leaving NATO | Pentagon extends mission on border | Senate advances measure bucking Trump on Russia sanctions MORE (D-Calif.) said Thursday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpVeterans groups demand end to shutdown: 'Get your act together' Brown launches tour in four early nominating states amid 2020 consideration Pence on border wall: Trump won't be ‘deterred’ by Dem ‘obstruction’ MORE’s border wall campaign has nothing to do with border security, but is instead designed to energize his conservative base and distract the country from the various scandals dogging his administration.
 
“I don’t even know if the president wants the wall. I think he just wants a debate on the wall. And he’s having some difficulty with it,” Pelosi said during a press briefing at the Capitol.
 
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She also accused Trump of preventing a border deal by shifting his demands over the course of the weeks-long negotiations.
 
“He keeps increasing the amount of money; increasing the amount of beds; increasing the obstacles to finding a solution — because I don’t think he really wants a solution,” Pelosi said. “I think he loves the distraction that this is from his other problems.”
 
The comments came on the 20th day of the partial government shutdown that’s resulted from the ongoing impasse over border wall funding. Trump is demanding $5.7 billion for new wall construction; Pelosi and the Democrats have offered $1.3 billion for border security measures — including reinforcement of existing walls and fences — but have opposed construction of any new physical barriers.
 
The talks seemed to deteriorate on Wednesday when Trump stormed out of a meeting at the White House with Pelosi and other congressional leaders. Pelosi on Thursday characterized Trump’s exit as “unpresidential” and suggested the entire meeting was a political performance piece.
 
“I think the meeting was a set-up so he could walk out,” Pelosi said, emphasizing the hardship facing the federal workers who aren't receiving paychecks during the shutdown.
 
“As I said to him yesterday: These people cannot go to their fathers to cover their … costs,” she said, taking a dig at Trump’s inheritance.
 
Amid the stalemate, Trump has floated the idea of declaring a national emergency at the border, a move that could free up wall funding without congressional approval.
 
“If this doesn't work out, probably I will do it,” Trump said Thursday morning. “I would almost say definitely.”
 
Speaking after Trump’s comments, Pelosi declined to say how House Democrats would react to such a declaration. But she noted that a number of Republican lawmakers have already come out in opposition to the idea of weakening Congress’s power of the purse.
 
“If and when the president does that you’ll find out how we will react,” Pelosi said. “I think he’s going to have to answer to his own party on usurping that much power.”