In a stunning exchange that played out in front of TV cameras inside the Oval Office, President Donald Trump on Tuesday openly clashed with Democratic leaders over the looming government shutdown and funding for a border wall, declaring at one point that he would be “proud to shut down the government” to fund the wall.
“I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck,” Trump told Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer before adding, “I will take the mantle for shutting it down.”
The heated remarks came during a planned meeting at the White House that quickly spiraled out of control as Trump argued with Schumer and soon-to-be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the votes needed to pass funding for a $5 billion border wall. “One way or the other, it’s going to get built,” Trump said. “I’d like not to see a government closing, a shutdown. But the wall is a very important thing to us.”
At another point, Trump said Pelosi was in a situation “where it’s not easy for her to talk right now.”
Pelosi shot back, “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.”
“Elections have consequences, Mr. President,” Schumer quickly added.
Trump: “Nancy’s in a situation where it’s not easy for her to talk right now.”
Pelosi: “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” pic.twitter.com/LEdNHjymTi
— QuickTake by Bloomberg (@QuickTake) December 11, 2018
The heated back-and-forth was an extraordinary display of hostility between Trump and the Democratic leaders who said on Tuesday that the president was willing to risk a government shutdown to deliver on a campaign promise. Vice President Mike Pence notably remained silent throughout the exchange.