President Donald Trump confirmed that he told congressional leaders he’d keep the government closed for a year or longer if Democrats refuse to provide more money to construct a wall on the border with Mexico.
“I did, absolutely, I said that,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday, after he was asked to confirm an account of a meeting by Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer. Schumer said after the meeting that Trump threatened to keep the government shut down for “months or even years.”
“I don’t think it will,” Trump said. “But I am prepared and I think I can speak for Republicans in the House and Republicans in the Senate. I hope it doesn’t go on even beyond a few more days. It really could open very quickly, I told them.”
Democrats demanded that Trump reopen the government before talks on border security proceed, Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. Trump “resisted,” Schumer said.
“In fact, he said he’d keep the government closed for a very long time — months or even years,” the New York Democrat said.
Instead, the president directed Vice President Mike Pence, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to meet with top aides to congressional leaders over the weekend to try to resolve the impasse.
“We really cannot resolve this until we open up government, and we made that clear to the president,” Pelosi told reporters after the nearly two-hour meeting.