‘Bye-bye’: Trump storms out of bor­der wall ne­go­ti­a­tions

The Phnom Penh Post - - WORLD -

US PR E SI DE N T Dona ld Trump on Wednesday said “bye-bye” and stormed out of ne­go­ti­a­tions 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 that 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 t hey would ag ree to f und his wa l l project i n ex­change for him ending a painf ul 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.

“We heard once again that Demo­cratic lead­ers are un­will­ing to even ne­go­ti­ate,” Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence said.

The vice pres­i­dent in­sisted that Trump came in good faith.

“The pres­i­dent walked into the room and passed out candy,” Pence said. “I don’t re­call him ever rais­ing his voice or slam­ming his hand.”

Shut­down

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 v ul­ner­a­ble, 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 on 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.

“I think we might work a deal, and if we don’t, we might go that route,” he said, in­sist­ing he has the “ab­so­lute right” to de­clare an emergency, de­spite warn­ings in Con­gress that this could be seen as se­ri­ous pres­i­den­tial over­reach.

‘Amer­i­can blood’ speech

Trump’s tri­umphant 2016 cam­paign re­lied heav­ily on his “build the wall” slo­gan and since then, he has pushed the idea that the US is be­ing over­whelmed by dan­ger­ous mi­grants who en­ter the coun­try il­le­gally.

But with Democrats winning con­trol of the House in Novem­ber mid-term elec­tions, Trump’s wall push has come up against a wall of its own.

Speak­ing at a swear­ing-in cer­e­mony for mem­bers of the Con­gres­sional His­panic Cau­cus later on Wednesday, Schumer in­sisted: “The sym­bol of Amer­ica should con­tinue to be the statue of Lib­erty and not a 30-foot wall.”

And Pelosi said find­ing a so­lu­tion for “Dream­ers” – un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants who ar­rived in the US as chil­dren – would be a “high pri­or­ity”. Trump in 2017 ended the Obama-era pro­gramme pro­tect­ing them from de­por­ta­tion.

This week, an in­creas­ingly frus­trated pres­i­dent is try­ing to seize the ini­tia­tive.

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

“How much more Amer­i­can blood must we shed be­fore Con­gress does its job?” Trump said.

“For those who refuse to com­pro­mise in the name of bor­der se­cu­rity, I would ask to imag­ine if it was your child, your hus­band, or your wife whose life was so cru­elly shat­tered and to­tally bro­ken,” he said in the nine-minute speech.

Trump claimed on Wednesday that his ad­dress had been a suc­cess.

But Schumer scoffed: “I don’t think he per­suaded a soul with his talk last night. It was same old same old – mis­truths, di­vi­sive­ness. Didn’t have the ef­fect he had hoped.”

ALEX WONG/AFP

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

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