President Trump on Monday said that he has rejected Senator Lindsey Graham’s (of South Carolina) proposal to temporarily reopen the government in an effort to jump-start talks with Democrats on funding of the border wall.
“I did reject it,” Mr. Trump said, speaking to reporters as he boarded Marine One outside of the White House, on the way to deliver a speech to a farm convention in New Orleans.
In an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Mr. Graham – a close ally of the president, pitched a plan to the president to agree to a vote by Congress to reopen the government for about three weeks “before he pulls the plug on the legislative option.” If there was no progress made during that time, Mr. Graham said, the president could then declare a national emergency as a way to obtain funding for a border wall without congressional action.
Mr. Trump, however, said he did not want to extend the impasse over funding. It is not yet clear what Trump’s alternative was. “I’m not looking to call a national emergency,” he said on Monday. “This is so simple you shouldn’t have to.”
Advisers have said that Mr. Trump has refused to allow his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, or anyone negotiating on his behalf to compromise on his demand for border wall funding of $5.7 billion, leading to awkward moments in front of Congress leaders.
Trump castigated Mr. Mulvaney, in a meeting held at White House, involving both parties, for proposing a compromise figure between his desired $5.7 billion and the Democrats’ offer of $1.3 billion, as a way to end the shutdown. The president explicitly blamed Mr. Mulvaney for messing up the negotiations.
The President has tried to demonstrate his willingness to negotiate with his physical presence, although having an intractable position on the issue. It is a point of pride that he has highlighted on numbers occasions including twitter and interviews.
He told Jeanine Pirro, the Fox News host, also a personal friend of the president’s, in a phone-in interview on her show, “I haven’t left the White House in months”.
On Monday, Mr. Trump again highlighted his presence in Washington. “I’ve been here all weekend,” Mr. Trump said. “A lot of the Democrats were in Puerto Rico celebrating something. I don’t know, maybe they’re celebrating the shutdown.”
Advisers have said that Trump still believes he has the upper hand. But it has become a concern for people in the White House as the shutdown drags on and public opinion polls have shown a majority of the county blames Mr. Trump for the shutdown.
According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted between Jan. 8 and 11, about 53% of Americans blame Trump and the Republicans. Only 29% blamed Democrats in Congress for the partial government shutdown which left 800,000 federal employees working without pay.