President Donald Trump once again unleashed what’s become his presidential hallmark: a bizarre, winding, threatening press conference, this time following his White House meeting with Democratic leaders Friday to try to break the impasse causing the government shutdown.
In a long, meandering briefing in the Rose Garden, Trump told reporters the partial shutdown now heading into its third week could go on for months, even years, if Democrats don't give him the $5.6 billion he’s demanding to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall. The Democrats have steadfastly refused. The shutdown has affected some 800,000 federal workers — 420,000 of them forced to work without pay — since Dec. 22.
“This is national security we're talking about,” Trump said. “We're not talking about games."
When asked if there was any “safety net” for workers going without pay as the shutdown continues, Trump responded: "The safety net is going to be having a strong border.”
Trump also floated another way he could get his wall: declaring a state of national emergency over border security to build it without congressional approval.
“I could do it if I wanted,” Trump said.
Trump continued to refuse responsibility for workers affected by the shutdown, telling the press:
• Landlords should “go nice and easy” on federal workers who can’t afford rent.
• Mexico will pay for the border wall through a new trade deal with the U.S., a claim that is not backed by evidence.
• Democrats probably won’t see him act on DACA — which protects some immigrants brought the U.S. illegally as children — unless they concede on border wall funding.
• “I think we’ll have to build a steel wall as opposed to a concrete wall.”
• That he can’t be impeached because he’s doing a good job, which he said in response to newly sworn-in Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s promise to impeach that “motherfucker.” "I think she dishonored herself,” Trump said. “And I think she dishonored her family.”
The conference came after Trump's long meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer about border security funding. Pelosi told the press that the meeting was “contentious,” while Schumer said Trump threatened to prolong a government shutdown for years if Democrats wouldn’t give him the $5.6 billion
The government shutdown is about to enter its third week over the president’s feud with Democrats over border security money. House Democrats passed two bills aimed at ending the shutdown in its first day in session Thursday, though neither of them will become law because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell won’t bring them to the Senate floor.
Cover: President Donald Trump speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House after a meeting with Congressional leaders on border security, Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)