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Schumer and Pelosi accuse Trump of plunging country into chaos as markets tank
Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) are blasting President Trump for "plunging the country into chaos" before Christmas, pointing to a sharp plunge in the stock market amid a government shutdown.
"It's Christmas Eve and President Trump is plunging the country into chaos. The stock market is tanking and the president is waging a personal war on the Federal Reserve - after he just fired the Secretary of Defense," the Democratic leaders said in a statement shortly after markets closed.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted by 653 points Monday in the worst day of trading on Christmas Eve in history. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq dropped by similarly large percentages.
U.S. crude oil prices also dropped by nearly 7 percent to an 18-month low, signaling weak demand in the months ahead as economic experts forecast a slowdown in 2019.
Trump appears to have exacerbated the market volatility by attacking the Fed for raising interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point last week, tweeting "the only problem our economy has is the Fed." He also indicated he's looking to fire Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.
Washington, meanwhile, is mired in a standoff over Trump's demand for $5 billion to build a border wall, which triggered a government shutdown on Saturday that is expect to last until later this week or even the early part of 2019.
"Instead of bringing certainty into people's lives, he's continuing the Trump Shutdown just to please right-wing radio and TV hosts," Schumer and Pelosi said in their joint statement.
The Democratic leaders say talks on reopening the government have stalled in part because of conflicting signals on what Trump would accept as a compromise to fund federal agencies.
"Different people from the same White House are saying different things about what the president would accept or not accept to end his Trump Shutdown, making it impossible to know where they stand at any given moment," Schumer and Pelosi said.
"The president wanted the shutdown, but he seems not to know how to get himself out of it," they added, accusing the president of being beholden to the most inflexible Republicans in Congress.
"As long as the president is guided by the House Freedom Caucus, it's hard to see how he can come up with a solution that can pass both the House and Senate and end his Trump Shutdown," the leaders said.
Defense Secretary James Mattis also resigned this week, adding to the chaos the Democratic leaders see in the administration.