Trump says he’s ‘win­ning’

Kenora Daily Miner and News - - NATIONAL NEWS - CATHER­INE LUCEY, LISA MAS­CARO and LAU­RIE KELL­MAN

MCALLEN, Texas — U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump threat­ened on Thurs­day to de­clare a na­tional emer­gency to cir­cum­vent Congress if he can’t reach a deal with Democrats to fund his promised bor­der wall. He spent most of the day in Texas near the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der to draw fur­ther at­ten­tion to his case after ne­go­ti­a­tions with law­mak­ers blew up.

The par­tial gov­ern­ment shut­down dragged into a 20th day with hun­dreds of thou­sands of fed­eral work­ers off the job or work­ing with­out pay as the wall fight per­sisted.

Asked about a na­tional emer­gency dec­la­ra­tion, Trump said as he left the White House, “I’m not pre­pared to do that yet, but if I have to I will.” He con­tends such a dec­la­ra­tion would al­low him to di­rect the mil­i­tary to be­gin build­ing the wall.

“So we’re ei­ther go­ing to have a win, make a com­pro­mise —be­cause I think a com­pro­mise is a win for every­body— or I will de­clare a na­tional emer­gency,” he said.

In per­haps an omi­nous sign for those seek­ing a swift end to the show­down, Trump an­nounced he was can­celling his trip to Davos, Switzer­land, later this month, cit­ing Democrats’ “in­tran­si­gence” on bor­der se­cu­rity. He was to leave Jan. 21 to at­tend the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum.

It’s not clear what a com­pro­mise might en­tail. Trump says he won’t re­open the gov­ern­ment with­out money for the wall. Democrats say they favour mea­sures to bol­ster bor­der se­cu­rity but op­pose the long, im­preg­nable wall that Trump en­vi­sions. He is ask­ing $5.7 bil­lion for wall con­struc­tion.

Trump’s com­ments came a day after he walked out of a ne­go­ti­at­ing meet­ing with con­gres­sional lead­ers — “I said bye-bye,” he tweeted after­ward — as ef­forts to re­open the gov­ern­ment fell into deeper dis­ar­ray.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ac­cused the pres­i­dent of en­gag­ing in po­lit­i­cal games to fire up his base.

“I think the meet­ing was a setup so he could walk out,” she said.

Af­fected fed­eral work­ers face lost pay­cheques on Fri­day, and more peo­ple are touched every day by the roll­back of gov­ern­ment ser­vices.

In McAllen, Texas, Trump vis­ited a bor­der pa­trol sta­tion for a round­table dis­cus­sion on im­mi­gra­tion and bor­der se­cu­rity and got a brief­ing. But he had ex­pressed his own doubts that his ap­pear­ance and re­marks would change any minds.

“A wheel works and a wall works,” Trump said, mock­ing Demo­cratic crit­i­cism of his plan. “Noth­ing like a wall”

Sit­ting be­tween bor­der pa­trol of­fi­cers, lo­cal of­fi­cials and mil­i­tary rep­re­sen­ta­tives, Trump in­sisted that he was “win­ning” the shut­down fight.

McAllen is lo­cated in the Rio Grande Val­ley, the busiest part of the bor­der for il­le­gal bor­der cross­ings.

Sev­eral hun­dred pro­test­ers were chant­ing and wav­ing signs op­pos­ing a bor­der wall next to the South Texas air­port where Trump was set to ar­rive. Across the street, a smaller group of pro­test­ers shouted back, chant­ing, “Build that wall!”

And in Wash­ing­ton, fed­eral work­ers de­nounced Trump at a rally with con­gres­sional Democrats, de­mand­ing he re­open the gov­ern­ment so they can get back to work and re­ceive their pay­cheques.

Putting the stand­off in per­sonal terms, the pres­i­dent tweeted be­fore leav­ing for Texas: “The Op­po­si­tion Party & the Dems know we must have Strong Bor­der Se­cu­rity, but don’t want to give ‘Trump’ an­other one of many wins!”

The White House meet­ing in the Sit­u­a­tion Room ended after just 14 min­utes. Democrats said they asked Trump to re­open the gov­ern­ment but he told them if he did they wouldn’t give him money for the wall. Repub­li­cans said Trump posed a di­rect ques­tion to Pelosi: If he opened the gov­ern­ment, would she fund the wall? She said no.

Se­nate Demo­cratic Leader Chuck Schumer said Trump slammed his hand on the ta­ble.

But Trump, who handed out candy at the start of the meet­ing, dis­puted that char­ac­ter­i­za­tion. He said he “didn’t smash the ta­ble” but “should have.”

One re­sult was cer­tain: The shut­down plunged into un­charted ter­ri­tory with no endgame in sight. On Satur­day, Wash­ing­ton ap­pears cer­tain to set an ig­no­min­ious record for the long­est gov­ern­ment shut­down in the na­tion’s his­tory.

The Democrats see the idea of the long wall as in­ef­fec­tive and even im­moral. Trump sees it as an ab­so­lute ne­ces­sity to stop what he calls a cri­sis of il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion, drug-smug­gling and hu­man traf­fick­ing at the bor­der.

Trump says Repub­li­cans are “very uni­fied,” but GOP sen­a­tors have been pub­licly un­easy as the stand­off rip­ples across the lives of Amer­i­cans and in­ter­rupts the econ­omy.

There’s grow­ing con­cern about the toll the shut­down is tak­ing on ev­ery­day Amer­i­cans, in­clud­ing dis­rup­tions in pay­ments to farm­ers and trou­ble for home buy­ers who are seek­ing gov­ern­ment­backed mort­gage loans — “se­ri­ous stuff,” ac­cord­ing to Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 2 Se­nate Repub­li­can.

JAC­QUE­LYN MARTIN/THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump ges­tures as he speaks to the me­dia on the South Lawn of the White House on Thurs­day be­fore leav­ing Wash­ing­ton, D.C., to visit the south­ern bor­der in Texas.

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