President Donald Trump on Wednesday walked out of a meeting in the situation room with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to discuss the partial government shutdown that has now lasted 19 days.
Trump posted about the meeting to Twitter, calling it a “total waste of time.”
“I asked what is going to happen in 30 days if I quickly open things up, are you going to approve Border Security which includes a Wall or Steel Barrier? Nancy said, NO,” the president wrote. Trump has made his proposed border wall the sole focus of the shutdown: Unless he can secure some $5 billion for the project, he will not agree to any budget proposal that would fully reopen the government.
He continued: “I said bye-bye, nothing else works.”
Schumer confirmed Trump’s version of events, telling reporters gathered in front of the White House, “Well, unfortunately the president just got up and walked out.”
“He asked Speaker Pelosi, ‘Will you agree to my wall?’ She said no,” Schumer said. “And he just got up and he said, ‘Then we have nothing to discuss.’ And he just walked out. Again, we saw a temper tantrum because he couldn’t get his way.”
Asked whether the president acted out of anger, as alleged by Schumer, Vice President Mike Pence said he recalled Trump behaving calmly.
“The president walked into the room and passed out candy. I don’t recall him ever raising his voice or slamming his hand,” Pence said.
The vice president said that the Democratic leaders objected to Trump’s characterization of the situation at the southern border, which Pence referred to as “a humanitarian and security crisis.”
Outside the White House, Pelosi told reporters that she did not believe Trump fully appreciated the financial impact on the federal workers who have been showing up to work without getting paid, or who have not been able to work at all since the shutdown began just before Christmas.
“The president seems to be insensitive to that. He thinks maybe they could just ask their father for more money,” Pelosi said. “But they can’t.”