Walking away a Trump tactic? It’s in ‘The Art of the Deal’
President Donald Trump’s decision to storm out of a meeting with congressional leaders Wednesday shocked some on Capitol Hill. But those who have done business with him recognized it as one of his trademark negotiating tactics.
Long before he entered the White House, Trump was known to have done the same thing when a deal wasn’t going his way. He even walked out of a judge’s chambers during divorce proceedings.
His exit Wednesday, however, appeared to gain him little traction with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic lawmakers who attended the Situation Room meeting. She called Trump’s approach to the shutdown talks “pathetic,” and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the president had thrown a “temper tantrum.”
But, according to Jay Goldberg, who was Trump’s lawyer from 1989 to 2014 and handled two of his divorces, the president has reason to believe that walking out could be effective.
“He crafted that approach, it’s one he owns,” Goldberg said. “He has a tendency to argue, and if he is not satisfied he will leave the room, disappear, doesn’t come back and the people are on edge wondering where he is. And then when he feels it is the appropriate time he comes back.”
Trump’s approach to the current standoff with congressional Democrats — in which he is refusing to sign off on funding to reopen much of the government until Democrats give him $5.6 billion to pay for a wall at the Mexican border — may be viewed through the same lens.
While Pelosi and Schumer stood aghast outside the White House in the windy chill after Trump ended their meeting, the president was inside, tweeting: “Just left a meeting with Chuck and Nancy, a total waste of time. I asked what is going to happen in 30 days if I quickly open things up, are you going to approve Border Security which includes a Wall or Steel Barrier? Nancy said, NO. I said bye-bye, nothing else works!”
Dick Durbin, the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, who also attended the meeting, said he suspected that Trump thought the lawmakers would stay in the room and negotiate with Vice President Mike Pence. But they followed his lead — and left.
“It was pretty clear his heart was not in it,” Durbin said. “I think he’s getting impatient.”
Trump has not kept the tactic a secret. “Negotiations 101: The best deals you can make are the ones you walk away from ... and then get them with better terms,” he said on Twitter in 2014.
“Know when to walk away from the table,” he tweeted in 2011, quoting from his 1987 book “The Art of the Deal.”