President Donald Trump would like the American people to know he is working diligently to end the government shutdown. In reality, the Art of the Deal author has been largely absent from weekend talks.
“I had to stay here in DC, which I’m becoming pretty proficient at,” the frequent weekend golfer told his wealthy donors over the weekend. President Trump was forced to skip his weekend visit to his Mar-A-Lago country club. Instead, Trump was in Washington, D.C. as a Republican controlled White House, Senate, and House struggled to find a budget deal that would be accepted by Republicans and Democrats.
“We had to stay here for the purpose of the shutdown,” he said from the Rose Garden. “There shouldn’t be a shutdown, but there is. It’s caused by the Democrats. But we’re going to end up winning another victory.”
On Sunday, the White House attempted to prove that President Trump was hard at work, sending a bunch of pictures, including the one shown in this story, that showed the 45th POTUS apparently talking on the phone and talking to White House Staffers.
On Sunday, President Trump chose to reach out only to members of his own party, including Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Kevin McCarthy. President Trump then claims that Democrats needed to come to him with a deal instead of offering his own way out for his rival party.
After Claire McCaskill attempted to keep funding military paychecks, a maneuver that was completely ignored by Mitch McConnell, President Trump spoke with Veterans Affairs secretary, David Shulkin, and Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen. They both wore blue disposable gloves and handed out bins in a security line at Washington’s Ronald Reagan National Airport. The gloves were part of a display to highlight that federal employees must continue working during the funding delay.
Damage Control Was In Full Force Over The Weekend
Trump also sent out two of his top aides to appear on Sunday morning television in an attempt to wholly blame Democrats for the shutdown. Trump’s top budget chief Mick Mulvaney and his legislative affairs director Marc Short, seemed to be handling much of the damage control over the weekend. Both men accused Democrats of using the shutdown to fund their own political ends.
Short was also in damage control over a video that suggests Democrats are complicit in murders committed by immigrants.
“Well, you know that ad was produced by an outside group,” Short said. The video, in fact, was produced by Trump’s election campaign and ends with Trump’s own voice saying he approved the message.
In a low-hand move, the White House comment line was replaced with a message that blamed Democrats of “holding government funding, including funding for our troops and other national security priorities, hostage to an unrelated immigration debate.”
Pence Goes On The Offensive While Addressing The Troops
In a moment of media pandering, Vice President Mike Pence appeared at a US air base near the Syrian border to accuse Democrats of stopping military pay.
“A minority in the Senate has decided to play politics with military pay, but you deserve better,” Pence said, surrounded by troops. “You and your families shouldn’t have to worry for one minute about whether you’re going to get paid as you serve in the uniform of the United States.”
Pence failed to mention that members of his own party failed to vote yes for a bill that was wholly written by the Republican party.
When asked by a reporter to better explain his choice of words, Pence said, “I wanted these soldiers to know that we’re with them. We’re not going to stand for it.”
President Trump, at the same time, continued his attacks against the Democrats and the military pay issue.
Nobody Seems To Want Trump Involved
Reports have circulated that President Trump has spent much of the weekend watching old attack clips against President Obama during the 2013 government shutdown. Other’s have said the President himself has distanced himself to allow for a more clear process to unfold.
Trump also spent the weekend watching Fox News where his son, Eric Trump, appeared on Judge Jeanine, a favorite program of Trump’s because of its unabashed support of the President.
.@EricTrump: "My father was elected for one reason, and that's because he actually believes in putting America first, which is overwhelming among the citizens of this country." @JudgeJeanine pic.twitter.com/8qKt8Bb199
— Fox News (@FoxNews) January 21, 2018
However, several insiders say lawmakers have attempted to keep Trump away from the agreement to avoid confusion. The President, known for shooting from the hip on Twitter, has often flip-flopped from one day to the next.
Take for example the unexpected meeting President Trump took with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer last week. Trump didn’t’ inform his advisers and the talks were seen a massive failure. Chief of Staff John Kelly was forced to call Schumer on Friday to inform him that offers made by the Democrats had fallen short of the President’s immigration demands. The comments were made after Schumer himself said he believed President Trump was open to a deal.
President Trump’s frustration appears to be growing, over the weekend he said, “Republicans should go to 51% (Nuclear Option) and vote on real, long-term budget.”
The President’s own suggestion has been a sore point for his own party’s leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who shut down any talks of a simple majority vote.
Jeff Flake Blatantly Claims Trump Has No Talk Involvement
GOP Sen. Jeff Flake, an outspoke critic of Trump said on Sunday that the President has no involvement in budgetary talks.
“I just don’t think it helps for him to be involved at all,” he told reporters. “The White House really hasn’t been involved from what I’ve seen.”
Republicans, in general, seem to be distancing themselves from any involvement beyond a three-week discussion window. House Republican leaders have outright refused to commit to holding an immigration vote on the House floor before February 8, and have said they will not negotiate on anything beyond a three-week continuing resolution.
Paul Ryan said Sunday the House will accept a short-term bill through Feb. 8 but will commit only to an immigration bill “that the president supports to fix this problem.”
“We’re basically waiting to see whether the Senate will vote for this or not,” Ryan said of a three-week funding bill on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
In the meantime, a Democrat aide told CNN that “Everyone’s dug in. No movement at all from either side.”
Now we get to sit through a bunch of posturing as the Republican party deems this entire mess the “Schumer Shutdown.”
Welcome to the Red State…
What's Your Reaction?
James Kosur is the former Editor-In-Chief and co-founder of Hill Reporter. He recently served as an editor for Business Insider and various other publications. James and his partners sold Hill Reporter to a new owner in July 2019.