Trump walks out of latest shutdown talks with Democrats, call them 'waste of time'
Democrats said the president had a "temper tantrum."
Democrats came out of the latest government shutdown talks at the White House on Wednesday claiming that President Donald Trump walked out in a "temper tantrum" when they again refused to meet his demand that they agree to fund his border wall.
After the meeting ended, the president tweeted that the negotiations were "a total waste of time."
Standing outside the West Wing, Republican and Democratic leaders described a meeting in the Situation Room that was dysfunctional, frustrating, and brief, lasting just 14 minutes.
"It’s cold out here and the temperature wasn't much warmer inside the Situation Room," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the talks quickly broke down after Trump asked Democrats if they would agree to fund his proposed border wall.
"We saw a temper tantrum because he couldn't get his way and he just walked out of the meeting," Schumer said, calling the president's decision to not reopen the government without border wall funding "cruel" and "callous" as federal workers will not get their first scheduled paycheck of the shutdown on Friday.
"He sort of slammed the table and when Leader Pelosi said she didn't agree with the wall, he just walked out and said, 'We have nothing to discuss.' So he said it was a waste of his time. That is sad and unfortunate," Schumer said, describing the meeting.
Vice President Mike Pence, speaking to reporters after the Democrats, agreed about the exchange, generally. "He asked Speaker Pelosi that if he opened things up quickly, if he reopened the government quickly, would she be willing to agree to funding for a wall or a barrier on the southern border, and when she said 'no,' the president said 'good-bye,'" Pence said.
But Pence disagreed about the president's tone.
"The president walked into the room and passed out candy," Pence said. "It's true. I don't recall him ever raising his voice or slamming his hand," Pence said. A White House aide confirmed the president tried to sweeten negotiations with Democrats by passing out Snickers, Butterfingers, and M&Ms.
Arriving back on Capitol Hill, Pelosi didn't mince words about the confrontation.
"It was a petulant President of the United States. A person who would say ‘I will keep government shutdown for a month or years unless I get my way.’ That’s just not the way democracy works," Pelosi said.
Schumer disputed that Trump asked Pelosi for “border security.” Schumer was emphatic when asked by ABC News about the characterization: “He said ‘the wall.’”
Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin described a perfunctory effort by the president. “'I don’t know why I’m doing this. I didn’t want to do this meeting. They told me I had to do this meeting,'” Durbin recounted the president as saying. “It was pretty clear his heart was not in this.”
No follow up meeting has been planned.
A few hours before the White House meeting, with the government shutdown in Day 19, Trump made a rare drive up Pennsylvania Avenue to Capitol Hill to shore up support for his border security funding demands with Senate Republicans.
Some Senate Republicans are breaking ranks and saying the president should reopen the government while discussions over border security continue.
Before heading to Capitol Hill, during a bill signing to combat human trafficking in the Oval Office, the president claimed lawmakers from both sides of the aisle could strike a deal and said he has "tremendous" Republican support.
"I really believe the Democrats and the Republicans are working together. I think something will happen, I hope, otherwise we'll go about it in a different manner," Trump said.
He said it would be "foolish" to give up on border security.
As he arrived on Capitol Hill, he said there was "tremendous" and "unwavering" GOP support.
Following lunch with Republicans, the president declared the party is "unified" but added that some members expressed concerns about what he described as "strategies."
“There was no discussion about anything other than solidarity,” the president said. Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said afterward that while some senators stood and expressed concern about the dragged-out shutdown, the overwhelming sentiment was that Republicans should "stick together."
Sen. John Kennedy, a Lousiana Republican, said, “If you asked me to describe the president in one word, I’d say ‘resolute.’ He gave no indication of any intention of giving an inch.” kennedy added, "Nancy Pelosi just hates Donald Trump more than she wants a solution.”
The president's trip to Capitol Hill is only his fifth public outing since the shutdown began in late December and it follows his first Oval Office address to the nation Tuesday night looking to make his case directly to the public.
The president argued that a "growing humanitarian and security crisis" at the southern border requires the government to put down $5.7 billion for a border wall, in addition to new technology and detention beds. Those demands have put negotiations between Republicans and Democrats at a standstill, as Democrats say they will not capitulate to what they call a "waste" of taxpayer dollars for "an expensive and ineffective wall." Meanwhile, nearly 800,000 federal employees have been furloughed.
Also on Wednesday, Schumer and Pelosi held a news conference with federal workers to draw attention to federal workers who may end up missing a paycheck on Friday if the shutdown continues.
Schumer teed up his message for Trump: “The House passed legislation to reopen the government. It’s time for President Trump [and] our Republican colleagues in the Senate, to accept it,” Schumer said. “Our federal workers just want to do their job. It’s time that you do yours.”
Pelosi said Trump “is being unfair” and that his address from the Oval Office last night was “not factual.”
“Last night, the president spouted more malice and misinformation appealing to fear instead of facts,” Pelosi said. “The reality is that the president could end the Trump shutdown and reopen government today, and he should.”
Calling the shutdown a “dark time for America’s workers,” Pelosi urged Trump to “end the senseless shutdown” in over to pave the way for lawmakers to debate border security.
“You wanna negotiate on the wall? Let’s proceed in a way that is respectful of our security and respectful of our values,” Pelosi said.
Schumer said the shutdown “ought to end now” and warned that federal workers could miss a paycheck without a speedy resolution to the impasse.
“The president needs to come to his senses and end this shutdown now,” Schumer said. “I don’t think he persuaded a soul with his talk last night. It was same old, same old. Mistruths. Divisiveness.”
Pelosi ducked a question asking whether she’d strike a middle ground on the president’s $5.7 billion request, and said she wants a Republican offer “in writing” to share with the public.
“We have been negotiating,” she said. “The White House seems to move the goalposts every time they come with a proposal. They walk away from it. Pretty soon these goal posts won’t even be in the stadium.”
“The first order of business: open up the government,” Schumer stressed.
Democrats said they planned to once again present the president with the House legislation that would reopen the government -- but don't include money for a wall.
Over the weekend, congressional staffers and the White House met multiple times in an effort to find common ground and reopen the government, but no progress was made.
The president has maintained he will declare a "national emergency" to obtain border wall funds if the talks aren't fruitful.
When asked by ABC News' Cecilia Vega why the president hasn't already declared a national emergency, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said it is 'certainly still on the table.”
“The best solution is to be able to work with Congress to get this done, you can close a lot of the loopholes, fund border security fully and that’s what we’re hopeful they’ll do," Sanders said.
On Thursday, the president plans to make a trip to the U.S.- Mexico border in McAllen, Texas, as part of his PR blitz on border security. ABC News' Karen Travers, Jordyn Phelps, Trish Turner and Mary Bruce contributed to this report.
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