During Friday’s meeting at the White House over the ongoing shutdown standoff, President Donald Trump and Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) made little substantive progress as Pelosi and Schumer urged Trump to reopen the government by Tuesday, according to three people familiar with the meeting.
One of these knowledgeable sources told The Daily Beast President Trump kicked off the meeting with a rant lasting roughly 15 minutes that included his $5.6 billion demand for a border wall, and threatened that he was willing to keep the government closed for “years” if that’s what it took to get his wall. He also, unprompted, brought up the Democrats who want him impeached, and even blamed Pelosi for new Democratic congresswoman Rashida Tlaib saying at a party earlier this week that Democrats would impeach the “motherfucker” Trump. (It is unclear why Trump would think Pelosi was responsible for this.)
Trump proceeded to tell the room he was too popular to impeach.
Along with saying the word “fuck” at least three times throughout the meeting, the president bizarrely stated that he did not want to call the partial government shutdown a “shutdown,” according to the source. Instead, he referred to it as a “strike.” (Many of the federal employees affected by the weeks-long shutdown have been working without pay. That is essentially the opposite of a strike.)
During the course of this meeting, the Democrats in the room were visibly shaking their heads in exasperation. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was one of the Republicans in the room. An aide to McConnell did not provide a readout of the meeting—citing office policy—but noted that the senator rarely talks in such sessions.
Another person familiar with the meeting disputed that Trump said “fuck” three times, though conceded he said it once.
This third source contended that the president “didn’t bring up impeachment unprompted,” but did so in the “context of how he wants to work together” with Democratic lawmakers and how impeachment efforts would be counterproductive to that. The source added that the little that McConnell did contribute included calling on Democrats to work this weekend on a solution to the shutdown impasse.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment as of press time. But according to one source familiar with the meeting, Schumer did press the president to reopen the government before continuing negotiations on a border wall. Otherwise, the Senator suggested, the president was effectively using government employees and shuttered government agencies as leverage.
“I’m not going to say it’s for leverage, but I’m not going to get a deal unless I do this,” the president replied, according to the source.
The Democrats in the room shook their heads, the source said, as if to say “so, you’re doing it for leverage…”