WASHINGTON (AP/Gray News) - President Donald Trump said Republicans are unified in their push for a border wall on Wednesday after meeting with GOP leaders. Later, he walked out of meeting that included Democrats when he was told they still would not agree to one.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, said after the meeting that Trump asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, “Will you agree to my wall?”
When she told him no, he got up and left.
“Then we have nothing to discuss,” the president said, according to Schumer.
The president also called the meeting a “total waste of time" in a tweet afterward.
Vice President Mike Pence backed the president in remarks after the meeting.
“I think the president made his position very clear today that there will be no deal without a wall," he said. "There will be no deal without the priorities the president has put on the table”
Speaking on her way back to the Capitol, Pelosi said “it wasn’t even a high-stakes negotiation, it was a petulant president of the United States,” CNN reported.
Earlier, Trump said there was “no discussion about anything other than solidarity” after a separate meeting that included only Republican Congressional leaders.
“We want national security and border security for our country," he said.
While Trump said there was some talk of strategy regarding the impasse that has left nine federal agencies shuttered since Dec. 22, he characterized it more as a rallying of the troops.
“They’re with us all the way,” he said of GOP lawmakers. “The Republicans are totally unified.”
Speaking to the nation from the Oval Office for the first time, Trump argued Tuesday night that the wall was needed to resolve a security and humanitarian "crisis," blaming illegal immigration for what he said was a scourge of drugs and violence in the U.S. and asking: "How much more American blood must we shed before Congress does its job?"
Democrats in response accused Trump appealing to "fear, not facts" and manufacturing a border crisis for political gain.
Using the formal trappings of the White House, Trump hoped to gain the upper hand in the standoff over his demand for $5.7 billion to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. He plans a visit to the border Thursday as he continues to pitch what was a signature promise of his 2016 presidential campaign.
He addressed the nation as the shutdown stretched through its third week, with hundreds of thousands of federal workers going without pay and some congressional Republicans growing increasingly jittery about the spreading impact of the impasse.
For now, Trump sees this as winning politics.
TV networks had been reticent about providing him airtime to make what some feared would be a purely political speech. And that concern was heightened by the decision Tuesday by Trump’s re-election campaign to send out fundraising emails and text messages to supporters trying to raise money off the speech. Their goal: A half-million dollars in a single day.
"I just addressed the nation on Border Security. Now need you to stand with me," read one message sent out after his remarks.
In their own televised remarks, Pelosi and Schumer accused Trump of misrepresenting the situation on the border as they urged him to reopen closed government departments and turn loose paychecks for hundreds of thousands of workers.
Negotiations on wall funding could proceed in the meantime, they said.
Schumer said Trump "just used the backdrop of the Oval Office to manufacture a crisis, stoke fear and divert attention from the turmoil in his administration."
In his address, Trump ticked off a string of statistics and claims to make his case that there is a crisis at the border, but a number of his statements were misleading, such as saying the new trade deal with Mexico would help pay for the wall, or suggesting through gruesome examples that immigrants are more likely to commit crime.
Trump, who has long railed against illegal immigration at the border, has recently seized on humanitarian concerns to argue there is a broader crisis that can only be solved with a wall.
But critics say the security risks are overblown and the administration is at least partly to blame for the humanitarian situation.
Trump used emotional language, referring to Americans who were killed by people in the country illegally, saying: "I've met with dozens of families whose loved ones were stolen by illegal immigration. I've held the hands of the weeping mothers and embraced the grief-stricken fathers. So sad. So terrible."
The president often highlights such incidents, though studies over several years have found immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than people born in the United States.
Trump has been discussing the idea of declaring a national emergency to allow him to move forward with the wall without getting congressional approval for the billions he's requested. But he did not mention that Tuesday night.
The partial government shutdown reached its 18th day on Wednesday, making the closure the second-longest in history.