Democratic leaders met with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office on Tuesday, and Trump demanded billions to build a border wall and said he’s willing to shut down the government later this month to get it.
“If we don’t get what we want, one way or the other through you or the military or anybody else, yes I will shut down the government,” Trump said, sitting next to leader of the House Democrats, Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer as press cameras rolled. “I am proud to shut down the government for border security.”
“I don’t think we should have a debate in front of the press on this,” Pelosi said. Later, as the back and forth became more forceful, Pelosi told Trump she and Schumer came to the meeting “in good faith and you turned it into this kind of discussion in the public view.”
Democratic strategists point to low overall support among voters for closing the government to fund the wall and believe public support will be with them if they hold their ground. If there is a shutdown, the political posturing from Democrats and Republicans will be over who gets the blame. Consequently, Trump’s overt admission then that he would proudly back a shutdown appeared to give Democrats ammunition and backed Republicans into a corner. “We did get him to say, to fully own that the shutdown was his,” Pelosi told her her colleagues during a meeting at the capitol, according to an aide in the room.
“This was great for Democrats,” another Democratic aide told TIME. “It made obvious Trump’s take my ball and go home approach on the wall.”
Overall, Pelosi described the meeting as “wild.” “It goes to show you: you get into a tinkle contest with a skunk, you get tinkle all over you,” she said, according to an aide in the room.
“It’s like a manhood thing for him,” she also said. “As if manhood could ever be associated with him. This wall thing.”