I guess Trump thought it would be a good idea to bring in cameras as he talked with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer about immigration reform and in particular, his border wall. But it just made him look silly.
Prior to his meeting with Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer, Trump brought reporters into the Oval Office and — in an extended, heated exchange before the cameras — clashed with the two Democratic leaders over congressional support for funding for his border wall, declaring that he is “proud to shut down the government for border security.”
Trump has demanded $5 billion for the border wall, but Schumer has drawn a red line on providing no more than $1.3 billion — not for a wall, but for border security. “This temper tantrum that [Trump] seems to throw will not get him his wall and it will hurt a lot of people because he will cause a shutdown,” Schumer said in a press conference following the Oval Office altercation.
Trump, Pelosi and Schumer spar in the Oval Office front of cameras over a deal for funding the government pic.twitter.com/5YdBSSn7UF— Axios (@axios) December 11, 2018
Trump to Schumer: “I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck…I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down.” pic.twitter.com/ibG3E6JgEE— Axios (@axios) December 11, 2018
The meeting was a disaster of Trumpian proportions. On several occasions, Pelosi begged Trump to stop forcing them to contradict him in public in front of the press before the negotiations could even begin, but he insisted on pressing on, only to get owned over and over again.
Schumer laughed at him for attempting to say that he had gotten some kind of mandate out of the midterms: “When the president brags that he won North Dakota and Indiana, he’s in real trouble.” He pointed out that he had just repeated the same lies about the border wall that had inspired the new “Bottomless Pinocchio” rating from the Washington Post. He caught Trump in a contradiction, saying that our border security was terrible after opening his remarks by touting its effectiveness. He pointed out that Trump hasn’t even spent the money for border security that he received last year. Then he told Trump that he had called for a government shutdown twenty separate times and got Trump to commit the mother of all blunders:
TRUMP: And I’ll tell you what, I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck, because the people of this country don’t want criminals and people that have lots of problems, and drugs pouring into our country. So I will take the mantle. I will be the to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it. The last time you shut it down it didn’t work. I will take the mantle of shutting down, and I’m going to shut it down for border security.
Meanwhile, Pelosi correctly told the president that he could not even pass his wall spending through the Republican House and refused to back down on that point in the face of repeated assertions to the contrary. She challenged the president to prove her wrong and told him that his wall “is wasteful and doesn’t solve the problem.” When Trump suggested that she was weak and couldn’t negotiate, she used the opportunity to show her strength and solidify her support within her caucus.
PELOSI: Mr. President — Mr. President, please don’t characterize the strength that I bring to this meeting as the leader of the House Democrats, who just won a big victory.
SCHUMER: Elections have consequences, Mr. President.
But probably the most important point Pelosi made was her most succinct statement of the entire meeting, “You will not win.”
And he won’t. The problem is simple: Trump wants $5 billion for his border wall, and Pelosi and Schumer don’t want to give it to him. Especially not Pelosi, who won’t even commit to the $1.6 billion Schumer has already offered. She has offered a one-year funding extension at current levels ($1.3 billion for border security). Pelosi is more ideologically progressive than Schumer, oversees a more progressive conference than he does, has a Speaker’s vote on the floor in January, vehemently opposes Trump’s immigration policies, and has no incentive to give Trump anything.
Minutes after a very public showdown with Trump over his border wall with Mexico, the California Democrat returned to the Capitol and railed against the president in a private meeting with her colleagues.
Trump “must have said the word ‘wall’ 30 times,” the House minority leader said, according to multiple sources in the room.
“I was trying to be the mom,” she added, but “it goes to show you: you get into a tinkle contest with a skunk, you get tinkle all over you.”
And then, Pelosi went for the most sensitive part of Trump’s ego.
“It’s like a manhood thing with him — as if manhood can be associated with him,” she deadpanned. “This wall thing.”
Notice how quiet Republicans have been about the shutdown fight? It’s because they don’t want to deal with this right now; they want to go home for Christmas. They are united in their enthusiasm about getting out of town ASAP — and that leaves Trump with little leverage.
You’ll hear Democrats say — and some Republicans, too, privately — that Trump should be happy with $1.6 billion for border security because that’s what he asked for in his 2019 budget.
Rewatching the Trump/Schumer/Pelosi meeting, it was striking that Trump interrupted every single time one of the others talked, just as he constantly interrupts reporters during press conferences. Is it because of the cameras, or does he do the same in every private meeting?— Ben Pershing (@benpershing) December 11, 2018