In public fight with Democrats, Trump says he would be ‘proud’ to shut down government over border wall

President Donald Trump and Democrats Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi bickered at length on Tuesday in an explosive public meeting at the White House over the president’s promised border wall and threat to shut down the government if Congress doesn’t fund it.

“If we don’t get what we want one way or the other … I will shut down the government,” Trump said during a highly unusual fight that played out in front of the press before the official meeting began. “I am proud to shut down the government for border security. … I will take the mantle of shutting it down.”

If Trump and Congress can’t agree to a funding bill by Dec. 21, large parts of the federal government will run out of operating authority. The Defense Department, however, is funded through the end of next September.

Trump said it was unlikely that he would strike a deal Tuesday with Pelosi, a California Democrat who is expected to become House speaker next month, and Schumer, a New York Democrat who is the Senate minority leader.

“We may not have an agreement today,” he said. “We probably won’t.”

The House Freedom Caucus, a group of Trump’s Republican allies in Congress, demanded Monday night that $5 billion be included for the wall in any spending bill, while the Democratic leaders have been open to accepting less than $2 billion.

Earlier in the day, according to two sources who spoke to NBC News on the condition of anonymity, Pelosi told House Democrats that she and Schumer would offer the president a deal to pass six appropriations bills and a yearlong extension of current funding for the Department of Homeland Security.

Short of that, she said, they would agree to a basic extension of funding through Sept. 30, 2019, for all seven appropriations bills, including the one that funds Homeland Security.

Before Trump took ownership of a possible shutdown, Pelosi took an early dig at him in her opening remarks and noted that his party still controls both the House and Senate until January.

“We must keep the government open,” she said. “We cannot have a Trump shutdown.”

“A what?” he snapped at her.

“You have the White House, you have the Senate, you have the House of Representatives,” Pelosi responded.

But, she noted, not all Republicans are on board with his plans to build a physical barrier.

“There are no votes in the House, a majority of votes, for a wall,” Pelosi said.

“If I needed the votes for the wall in the House, I would have them in one session,” Trump countered. “It would be done.”

But for two years, he has been unable to muster those votes for his core campaign promise during the 2016 election — a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border that Trump vowed Mexico would pay for.

Vice President Mike Pence watched Tuesday’s spectacle unfold in silence as Trump and the Democrats also fought over the results of last month’s midterm elections and their meaning.

Outgoing White House chief of staff John Kelly and presidential advisers Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and Stephen Miller were also in the room for the meeting.

Pelosi urged the president to stop bickering in front of the media.

“This is spiraling downward,” she said.

The private portion of the discussion was brief, as Pelosi and Schumer emerged quickly to talk to reporters outside the White House.

Schumer said Trump threw a “temper tantrum.”

Later, back at the Capitol, he said the meeting was “productive” in that “the president showed what he wanted: shutdown.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a top Trump ally, cheered the president on from the sidelines of Twitter.

“Great job sticking to your guns on border security, Mr. President!” he wrote. “You are right to want more border security funding including Wall money. They are WRONG to say no.”

Graham also advocated for Trump to add into the mix a provision protecting certain undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children from deportation to put pressure on Democrats to approve money for the wall.

Likewise, some Democrats took to social media to back their leaders.

“Remember when Mexico was going to pay for the President’s wall?” Rep. Val Demings of Florida tweeted. “Shutting down the government over this foolish idea would be wildly irresponsible. A shutdown would cripple the economy and degrade transportation security during the holidays.”

[NBC News]

Reality

Donald Trump lied multiple times and threw a very public temper tantrum during a photo op at the White House with Senator Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi over the southern border wall funding and averting a government shutdown, which Trump said he would take full credit for.

Trump, who promised his supporters Mexico would pay for a wall, instead demanded the American taxpayers pay for his wall.

Some of the lies include:

* Trump claiming parts of his wall has been built. Even his supporters know this is a lie.

* Trump said illegal traffic is down in areas where a wall was built. Again no construction has been completed.

* Trump said 10 terrorists have been apprehended. This is a lie.
* Trump repeated white nationalist and KKK talking points when he claimed immigrants bring crime and disease.

Media

Ex-Trump Official to Fox & Friends: Dems Don’t Want Wall Because Illegal Immigration Helps Them Politically

Former Trump official Michael Anton baselessly claimed on Fox & Friends that Democrats are in favor of illegal immigration because changing demographics help them politically.

Fox & Friends‘ Brian Kilmeade interviewed Anton — who left the White House earlier this year — about the battle to avoid a government shutdown, and President Donald Trump‘s request for $5 billion to fund his border wall. Democrats have rejected that request, instead offering $1.6 billion for border security.

Kilmeade asked Anton if Trump has “any leverage over Chuck and Nancy” to get his wall funded, to which Anton replied: “He has the American people’s public opinion on his side, he won the election largely on this issue.” (Note: A recent poll found most Americans think Trump should compromise on his border wall.)

Anton went on to baselessly suggest that Democrats don’t want security on the border because illegal immigration helps them politically:

“They don’t want a wall, they don’t want greater security, and they really don’t care about the consequences,” he said. “Because for them, the consequence is the more immigrants come in, the more the demographic change there is in the United States of America, the more that benefits Democratic politicians. And that’s what they care about the most.”

No pushback from Kilmeade.

[Mediaite]

Trump Falsely Claims Democrats Want ‘Open Borders’ Bringing ‘Crime and Disease’ in Morning Tweetstorm

President Donald Trump opened his communications strategy Tuesday morning with a series of tweets focused on the current immigration problems, particularly on the Southern U.S. border.

Trump has threatened to shut down the federal government if Congress does not approve the appropriate budget allocations to build the border wall that was so central to his campaign in 2016, despite the fact that candidate Trump repeatedly promised that Mexico would be paying for the wall.

[Mediaite]

Trump fires off late-night tweetstorm on the eve of a landmark moment in the Russia investigation

President Donald Trump fired off a series of tweets on a range of topics on Thursday evening, the night before the special counsel Robert Mueller was expected to submit several important filings related to the Russia investigation.

Trump fired off two tweets relating to a Fox Business segment in which the anchor Trish Regan sought to cast doubt on the FBI’sjustification for obtaining a FISA warrant to surveil the former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

Regan suggested the FBI was “weaponized in order to take down President Donald Trump.”

“Is this really America?” Trump tweeted. “Witch Hunt!”

In another tweet one minute later, Trump appeared to revive a particularly inflammatory attack on the news media, saying only “FAKE NEWS – THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!”

Trump went on to mention Arizona, which he claimed was “bracing for a massive surge at a NON-WALLED area.”

Trump appeared to be referringto the Customs and Border Patrol’s training exercise in Tucson, Arizona, on Thursday, where agents prepared “to deal with the potential of large crowds and assaultive behavior by caravan members, should a situation arise.”

Trump also mentioned the Democratic lawmakers Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, who refused to support Trump’s plans for a $5 billion down payment to fund a wall on the US-Mexico border.

“WE WILL NOT LET THEM THROUGH,” Trump tweeted. “Big danger. Nancy and Chuck must approve Boarder Security and the Wall!”

Trump’s rapid-fire tweets came the night before Mueller’s deadline to submit documents outlining what the special counsel’s office has described as the former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s “crimes and lies,” including allegations he lied in violation of his plea deal with the special counsel. Manafort agreed to cooperate with the special counsel while pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice and one count of conspiracy against the US in September.

Trump followed up with a series of five tweets on Friday morning in which he repeated his common refrain that the Russia investigation was a “witch hunt” and accused Mueller of having multiple conflicts of interest, including being “Best Friends” with former FBI Director James Comey, who was set to testify to Congress on Friday.

The special counsel’s team also Friday was expected to submit its sentencing recommendation for the former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who has pleaded guilty to financial crimes and, more recently, lying to Congress.

Mueller’s office released a similar recommendation this week for the former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who cooperated with investigators after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI.

Trump’s tweets on Friday morning Trump targeted Andrew Weissmann, a prosecutor on the special counsel Robert Mueller’s team. Trump accused Weissmann of having a “horrible and vicious prosecutorial past” and said he “wrongly destroyed people’s lives” — referring to a conviction he made against an Enron auditor that waslater overturned by the Supreme Court.

Trump also accused members of Mueller’s team of having made donations to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and asked whether it would be included in Mueller’s report. He also revived his talking points alleging corruption in the Democratic National Committee and on Clinton’s campaign.

[Business Insider]

Don’t condemn white nationalists, Veterans Affairs’ diversity chief was told after Charlottesville, emails show

A top White House appointee at the Department of Veterans Affairs sought to silence the agency’s chief diversity officer, who — in the aftermath of last year’s racially charged violence in Charlottesville — pushed for a forceful condemnation that was at odds with President Trump’s response, newly disclosed emails show.

The tense exchange between Georgia Coffey, a nationally recognized expert in workplace diversity and race relations, and John Ullyot, who remains VA’s chief communications official, occurred during a low point in Trump’s presidency: when he blamed “many sides” for the deadly clash in Charlottesville without singling out the white nationalists and neo-Nazis who rallied there.

One woman was killed and dozens were injured in the August 2017 protest, which began over the city’s plan to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a local park and ended when a car plowed into a crowd of anti-racism protesters.

VA’s secretary at the time, David Shulkin, made headlines that week when he appeared to break with Trump, telling reporters the violence in Charlottesville “outraged” him. Coffey, a career senior executive at VA, pressed the agency’s leaders to issue a statement making it clear that VA stood against such a “repugnant display of hate and bigotry by white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the Ku Klux Klan,” according to the emails.

The emails were provided to The Washington Post by the nonprofit watchdog group American Oversight, which obtained them via the Freedom of Information Act. The correspondence sheds new light on the politically delicate decisions federal agencies faced as officials sought to balance the need to address employee concerns with a desire not to upset the White House.

A statement from VA leaders was necessary, Coffey wrote in one email to Ullyot, because the agency’s workforce was unsettled by the uproar caused by the Charlottesville violence. Minorities make up more than 40 percent of VA’s 380,000 employees, the federal government’s second-largest agency.

Ullyot told Coffey to stand down, the emails show. A person familiar with their dispute, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told The Post that Ullyot was enforcing a directive from the White House, where officials were scrambling to contain the fallout from Trump’s comments, and they did not want government officials to call further attention to the controversy.

VA spokesman Curt Cashour said the agency received no such guidance from the White House.

Coffey, who declined to comment, retired from VA shortly after the dust-up, frustrated with what she felt was a lack of support from the Trump administration, according to her former colleagues. She now works as senior manager for diversity and inclusion at Lockheed Martin.

Ullyot, a seasoned media professional who worked on Trump’s campaign, is VA’s assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs. His exchange with Coffey was respectful, and he noted that he was acting at Shulkin’s direction, according to his emails. Shulkin, whom Trump forced out of the Cabinet post in March, and other officials were copied on the messages.

At VA, the fallout from Charlottesville remains a sensitive subject. In response to a request seeking comment for this report, VA’s current secretary, Robert Wilkie, issued a statement affirming that “John Ullyot is on the VA team because he is committed to veterans and has spent a lifetime of exceptional service as a Marine and public servant.”

Ullyot referred questions to VA’s public affairs office.

On Aug. 17, days after the Charlottesville violence, Coffey — then deputy assistant secretary for diversity and inclusion — emailed public affairs. She shared a draft of her statement and accompanying remarks, and requested help disseminating it to employees and the public.

Her remarks said the incident served “as a tragic reminder that our work in civil rights and inclusion is not finished.” She called on VA employees to be mindful of federal anti-discrimination policies and the agency’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

The response from a staffer in public affairs said, “John Ullyot does not want to post the message, as the Secretary previously made statements in the news media on this topic earlier this week.”

In an emotional statement the day before, at Trump’s private golf club in Bedminster, N.J., Shulkin said he gave “my personal opinions as an American and as a Jewish American. . . . And for me in particular, I think in learning history, that we know that staying silent on these issues is simply not acceptable.”

Other top administration officials echoed his sentiments.

Coffey urged expediency, telling Ullyot that she had sent the statement to Shulkin and his chief of staff for their review, according to their email exchange.

Ullyot then indicated that after consulting with Shulkin, the secretary said that “we should all feel free to share our own personal views on the recent events . . . as he did.’’ Ullyot wanted to remove the statement’s more incendiary language but told Coffey she could keep the part that reminded employees of VA’s “strong commitment” to equal employment opportunity and diversity, their emails show.

Coffey told Ullyot that she worried his edits would “dilute my message and fail to convey the sense of condemnation that I hope we all feel,” the emails show. She offered to remove Shulkin’s name from the statement, but Ullyot told her that he and Shulkin had agreed not to use it.

Shulkin said in an interview that he does not recall his conversations with Ullyot about how VA should respond to the incident. “I’ve been pretty public about my opinions on the Charlottesville events . . . and of course I think all Americans should express their views,” he said.

Coffey’s staff worried that she would get in trouble if she disregarded Ullyot’s guidance, according to other emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by the Project on Government Oversight, a watchdog group that first publicized the episode last year. The staff suggested that she should tone down her remarks, but Coffey declined. She posted the full remarks under her name in the monthly newsletter posted online by VA’s diversity office. Agency officials removed it and reprimanded her. She retired soon after.

Cashour said Shulkin had “dictated explicitly to John how he wanted this particular issue handled.” The secretary, Cashour said, was “adamant that VA employees keep their personal views on the Charlottesville issue out of official VA communications, as Shulkin had done himself in public comments two days beforehand. John was simply ensuring that Coffey understood and followed Shulkin’s guidance.”

The agency has grappled with issues surrounding race in recent years.

VA has long had an Office on Diversity and Inclusion to help improve race relations internally, and during the Obama administration appointed a senior official to travel around the country to set up conversations on race. The official, John Fuller, retired last year, citing a lack of support from the Trump administration.

In October, a senior official in VA’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization was forced to remove a portrait of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general and the Ku Klux Klan’s first grand wizard, from his office in Washington after offending employees. The official said he was unaware of Forrest’s affiliation with the hate group.

The same month, VA took down a placard outside a conference room in the same office that employees had named for Stonewall Jackson, another Confederate general. Cashour said officials were unaware the room had been named for Jackson and blamed a contractor employed by VA and the contractor’s supervisor. The contractor was instructed to take down the placard but had failed to do so, Cashour said.

[Washington Post]

New emails show Trump’s unqualified Mar-a-Lago buddies are influencing VA policies

A new batch of emails obtained by Pro Publica show that three members of President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort are influencing contract and budget decisions at the Department of Veterans Affairs — despite being completely unqualified to do so.

The emails show that the three Mar-a-Lago members — Marvel Entertainment chairman Ike Perlmutter, West Palm Beach physician Bruce Moskowitz and lawyer Marc Sherman — were involved in “some of the agency’s most consequential matters, most notably a multibillion-dollar effort to overhaul electronic health records for millions of veterans,” Pro Publica writes.

According to Pro Publica, the trio reviewed a draft of a $10 billion contract to overhaul the VA’s electronic medical records system, and they were listed among 40 different outside “experts” consulted for the contract despite lacking “any relevant expertise.”

Additionally, the emails show that Moskowitz used his position as an adviser to get the VA to adopt his mobile medical app, even though IT officials at the VA said that the app had serious functionality problems. In fact, one email shows that a VA IT official believed that “some of the code needs to be refactored and even rebuilt” for the app to work properly.

Moskowitz even recruited his son, Aaron Moskowitz, to pitch the benefits of the app during a conference between the VA and Apple CEO Tim Cook. Apple experts similarly pushed back on Moskowitz’s mobile app and said that “the national databases needed to make the app accurate didn’t exist,” Pro Publica writes.

[Raw Story]

Trump says country ‘would save billions’ if Democrats agreed to fund border wall

President Trump on Monday claimed that the country would “save billions of dollars” if Democrats voted to provide billions of dollars in funding to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The president went on to repeat a threat to close the southern border and said that immigrants will not be allowed in the “country illegally.”

“Either way, people will NOT be allowed into our Country illegally! We will close the entire Southern Border if necessary. Also, STOP THE DRUGS!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Trump has previously threatened to shut down the southern border in response to an approaching caravan of Central American migrants.

He has additionally directed thousands of troops deployed to the border, and attempted to curb certain immigrants from being able to claim asylum as the group of migrants trekked toward the U.S. border.

The president revived his calls for a border wall on Monday as Congress grapples over wall funding while trying to pass spending bills and avert a partial government shutdown.

The Senate passed its version of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spending bill with bipartisan support over the summer. The measure would allocate $1.6 billion for border security, including fencing.

The White House has since demanded $5 billion for border security, including wall funding, putting Democrats and the president at an impasse.

Trump has threatened to veto a bill that does not include adequate funding, while Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has said Democrats oppose spending more than $1.6 billion.

Cracking down on illegal immigration and building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border has been a hallmark of the Trump administration after focusing heavily on the issue in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Congress has until Dec. 7 to pass seven appropriations bills to keep the entire government funded. The president previously signed five funding bills in September, and agencies covered by those bills would not be affected by a shutdown this month.

Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One en route back from the Group of 20 Summit on Saturday that he would consider approving a two-week extension of government funding to provide more time in the wake of the death of former President George H.W. Bush.

[The Hill]

Trump might have renominated Yellen for Fed chair if she wasn’t so… short

President Donald Trump might have reappointed Janet Yellen to head the Federal Reserve if only she was a few inches taller.

A Washington Post report that quoted current and former officials said Trump on multiple occasions discussed giving Yellen another term at the central bank but was concerned over her height. He feared that at 5 feet and 3 inches she just wasn’t tall enough to get the job done.

The report said he expressed his misgivings to National Economic Council members and noted that Yellen “impressed [Trump] greatly” during their interview.

There have been some tongue-in-cheek comparisons made in the past to the height of Fed chairs and their propensity to raise rates, with 6-foot-9 Paul Volcker being the most aggressive. Powell is close to 6 feet tall.

Trump has been harshly critical of the Fed as its been run under Jerome Powell, whom he chose over Yellen. The president has objected to the interest rate increases under Powell, though Yellen also presided over hikes and the beginning of the reduction in the Fed’s balance sheet.

“Look, I took recommendations. I’m not blaming anybody,” Trump told the Post, despite reports that he blames Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for recommending Powell.

[CNBC]

Trump defends use of tear gas at the border

President Trump on Monday defended the use of tear gas against asylum seekers at the border, telling reporters that it was a “very minor form of tear gas” and questioning why migrants were trying to cross the border.

“First of all, the tear gas is a very minor form of the tear gas itself. It’s very safe,” Trump told reporters Monday evening in Mississippi.

“But you really say, why is a parent running up into an area where they know the tear gas is forming? And it’s going to be formed and they’re running up with a child,” he added.

Photos circulated on Monday showing women and children at a port of entry near San Diego fleeing tear gas, which was fired by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents.

The CBP said in a statement Monday that agents fired the tear gas after migrants attempted crossing the border illegally, some of them throwing rocks at border agents.

Trump earlier Monday said that border agents were forced to fire the tear gas.

“They had to use because they were being rushed by some very tough people and they used tear gas. And here’s the bottom line: nobody’s coming into our country unless they come in legally,” he told reporters.

In his comments Monday evening, Trump also claimed without evidence that some asylum seekers trying to cross the border were only pretending to be parents because of “certain advantages” that come with having a child.

“In some cases, they’re not the parents. These are people — they call them grabbers. They grab a child because they think they’re going to have a certain status by having a child,” he said.

“You have certain advantages in terms of our crazy laws that, frankly, Congress should be changing. If you changed the laws, you wouldn’t be having this problem,” Trump added.

The president also repeated that “violence” from asylum seekers could lead him to closing off the southern border.

“If they do a charge. Because with a closed border, it’s very easy to stop,” he said. “With an open border it’s not. If they do a charge. As you know, we have a big caravan coming up, another one.”

Trump in recent days has threatened to close off the southern border as he has ramped up his claims that the caravan of migrants moving through Mexico present a national security threat to the U.S. and presses for border wall funding to be included in the spending bills under negotiation by Congress.

[The Hill]

Media

Trump Announces All Asylum Seekers Must Now ‘Stay in Mexico’ Until Claims Approved in Court

On Saturday, President Donald Trump announced via a pair of tweets that migrants seeking asylum will now have to remain in Mexico until their claims are approved in court.

“Migrants at the Southern Border will not be allowed into the United States until their claims are individually approved in court. We only will allow those who come into our Country legally. Other than that our very strong policy is Catch and Detain. No ‘Releasing’ into the U.S.,” Trump wrote.

He then added in a second tweet: “All will stay in Mexico. If for any reason it becomes necessary, we will CLOSE our Southern Border. There is no way that the United States will, after decades of abuse, put up with this costly and dangerous situation anymore!”

Trump’s announcement comes just days after the Washington Postreported on plans to implement the policy as early as Friday.

According to DHS memos obtained by The Washington Post on Wednesday, Central American asylum seekers who cannot establish a “reasonable fear” of persecution in Mexico will not be allowed to enter the United States and would be turned around at the border.

The plan, called “Remain in Mexico,” amounts to a major break with current screening procedures, which generally allow those who establish a fear of return to their home countries to avoid immediate deportation and remain in the United States until they can get a hearing with an immigration judge. Trump despises this system, which he calls “catch and release,” and has vowed to end it.

At the time, Department of Homeland Security spox Katie Waldman said the policy will not start “this week.”

Yet, Trump also teased plans to close the entire border while speaking with reporters on Thanksgiving Day.

Earlier today, WaPo also reported that the Trump administration had reached a deal with Mexico to allow migrants to wait in the country. However, incoming Interior Minister Olga Sanchez has since deniedsuch deal exists.

The ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy is likely to meet court challenges in the days ahead especially since just this past Monday a San Francisco judge ruled Trump may not rewrite immigration laws.

[Mediaite]

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