Trump told CBS News’ Major Garrett that he had said in the meeting that the shutdown could continue for over a year. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters after the meeting that President Trump “said he’d keep the government closed for a very long time, months or even years.”
“I did say that,” Trump said. “I don’t think it will but I am prepared.” However, the president said that the meeting with congressional leaders was “contentious” but “productive.” Trump reiterated that he was requesting $5.6 billion for the wall, contradicting members of his own administration who offered Democrats a deal with $2.5 billion for the border wall last week.
“It was a great meeting. It may get solved, it may not get solved,” the president said about the meeting.
Newly minted Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Schumer, and top Republicans met in the White House Situation Room Friday morning for their second meeting of the week on the 14th day of the partial government shutdown, after they made no progress in a meeting Wednesday at the White House. Pelosi and Schumer spoke to reporters after the meeting, and indicated that the meeting was not a fruitful one.
When asked if he was still “proud” to own the shutdown, as he said in a meeting with congressional Democratic leaders on Dec. 11, Trump said that he didn’t call it a “shutdown,” but doing what was necessary to protect the country.
“I’m very proud of doing what I’m doing,” he said. He also reiterated his claim that money for the wall would come through revenues from the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which has not yet been passed in Congress.
President Trump said that he could call a national emergency and build the wall, but he has not done so yet.
Pelosi did not offer such a rosy assessment of the meeting with Trump, saying that she and Schumer had insisted on the need to reopen the government.
“We are committed to keeping our border safe,” Pelosi said after the meeting. “We can do that best when government is open. We made that clear to the president.”
“We made a plea to the president once again: don’t hold hundreds of thousands of federal workers hostage,” Schumer said, adding that Trump has said that he would allow a shutdown for an extended period of time. “So we told the president we needed the government open. He resisted.”
It’s unclear where Republicans and Democrats may find a compromise. Pelosi says she won’t give the president funding for his border wall —unless it’s just $1, she joked Thursday night — and Trump has already said he wouldn’t even accept the $2.5 billion in wall funding proposed by Vice President Mike Pence. The president won’t publicly say what figure he would accept. A senior White House official said Thursday that the president, Pence, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Trump senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, and top White House legislative aide Shahira Knight are all working on landing an acceptable figure for border wall funding.
Democrats want the president to go along with funding the non-Department of Homeland Security agencies, but Trump told congressional leaders in the Wednesday meeting doing that would make him “look foolish,” according to a person familiar with the conversation.
On Friday morning, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders didn’t close off the possibility of trading protections for so-called “dreamers” in exchange for wall funding, but said she wouldn’t “negotiate” in the press.
It’s unclear just how long this shutdown could last. Trump has said it could last a long time. Republican Sen. Richard Shelby said it could last “months and months.”
President Trump made a surprise appearance in the White House briefing room Thursday afternoon, hours after Pelosi had been elected speaker, attempting to make the case alongside border patrol representatives that his border wall is crucial to national security. He took no questions in his first appearance in the briefing room as president.
“So this meeting was set up a long time ago,” Trump said. “It just came at a very opportune time … So, I just appreciate them being here. I said let’s go out and see the press you can tell them the importance of the wall. They basically said — and I think I can take the word basically out — without a wall you cannot have border security. Without a very strong form of barrier — call it what you will. You cannot have border security. It won’t work.”
Reporting by Kathryn Watson and Grace Segers