'A total waste of time' | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 11, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:06 AM, January 11, 2019

'A total waste of time'

Trump storms out of border wall negotiations

President Donald Trump said "bye-bye" and stormed out of negotiations Wednesday on funding a US-Mexico border wall when Democratic opponents refused to agree to the project.

"A total waste of time," Trump tweeted about his White House meeting with top Democratic congressional leaders. "I said bye-bye, nothing else works!"

Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the Senate, told journalists Trump "sort of slammed the table," then "got up and walked out."

"Again, we saw a temper tantrum because he couldn't get his way," Schumer said.

Although the two sides agreed that the meeting ended abruptly, they argued over who was to blame.

According to supporters of Trump at the meeting, the president asked Democratic leaders whether they would agree to fund his wall project in exchange for him ending a painful shutdown of swaths of government, which he has instigated in retaliation for the standoff.

The Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, "raised her hand and said no, not at all," said Kevin McCarthy, the senior Republican in the House, who was also present.

Vice President Mike Pence, who was in the meeting, said Democrats were not even wanted to negotiate.

Trump wants $5.7 billion to fund a wall he says is needed to keep out dangerous illegal immigrants, drug dealers and people smugglers from Mexico.

Democrats say the wall would have little impact on real border problems and that Trump's tough approach has instead created a humanitarian crisis among vulnerable, unthreatening migrants.

Trump's main lever to exert pressure on Congress has been to refuse signing spending bills that cover large areas of government. As a result, some 800,000 federal employees and many more contractors have now been without pay for almost three weeks.

Democrats insist they will not lift their opposition to the wall project, and believe Americans will tire of the shutdown chaos and blame Trump.

But Trump indicated Wednesday on a visit to Republican allies in Congress that he will continue to play hardball.

"Whatever it takes," he told journalists, when asked how long the shutdown could continue.

Earlier at the White House, Trump told journalists that if he cannot get his way, he could declare a national emergency -- a measure that allows him to bypass Congress and take the wall funds he needs from the military.

On Thursday, he will fly to the southern border that he described in a prime-time television speech Tuesday as an open door to murderers and other criminals.

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