President Trump clashed Tuesday with Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi with the cameras rolling in the Oval Office, as the president insisted he’s willing to let the government shut down if Congress doesn’t approve funding for his U.S.-Mexico border wall.
“If we don’t have border security, we’ll shut down the government,” Trump said.
The highly anticipated sit-down quickly escalated, in public, as Trump allowed the press to attend the start of it. Trump began by repeatedly telling Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, his party is limited in what it can do because it will take Democratic support to pass anything through the Senate.
Schumer then raised his voice as he claimed the Senate could pass measures to keep the government running regardless.
“If it’s not good [on] border security, I won’t take it,” Trump shot back.
Pelosi and Schumer repeatedly urged the president to take the meeting private, but not before he declared he’s “proud to shut down the government for border security” and will “take the mantle.”
Pelosi noted, “this has spiraled downwards.”
The meeting broke up roughly a half-hour after the cameras stopped rolling. The very-public discord leaves unclear whether the two sides can come to an agreement to keep the government running before a looming Dec. 21 deadline.
Pelosi, speaking to reporters afterwards, claimed they left things “in a pretty good place.” But the White House put out a statement after the meeting saying “major disagreement remains on the issue of border security and transparency.”
The explosive meeting with Schumer, the Senate minority leader, and Pelosi came hours after Trump threatened Tuesday to have the military “build the remaining sections” of the wall if Congress doesn’t deliver the funding. Vice President Mike Pence was also in attendance.