A contentious White House meeting spilled into a new day Thursday, with President Donald denying Democrats’ contention he slammed a situation room table and stormed out of a meeting about ending a partial government shutdown now in its 20th day.
“The president stomped out of the meeting,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California told reporters at the Capitol Wednesday afternoon. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York called Trump’s move a “temper tantrum,” contending while standing outside the West Wing that the president at one point “slammed the table” before calling the meeting “a waste of his time.”
Vice President Mike Pence and top congressional Republicans emerged from the White House to defend the president, saying he did not slam any table in what they described as a “calm” — though brief — back-and-forth with Schumer and Pelosi. Pence even told reporters the president “passed out candy” at the start of the Situation Room session, implying he was in a jovial mood and only decided to leave the meeting when Democrats refused to negotiate on his demand for $5.7 billion for his proposed southern border wall.
Trump got in on the denials Thursday morning before he is scheduled to head to Texas to visit federal law enforcement officers at the U.S.-Mexico border as part of a presidential public relations offensive pushed by his senior aides. White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on Wednesday denied reports that Trump doesn’t believe the trip and a Tuesday night primetime address will change public opinion about the border wall, saying Trump is “enthusiastic” about the trip.
Before he left, he attacked the media and Democrats while denying Schumer’s table-pounding allegation.
“Cryin Chuck told his favorite lie when he used his standard sound bite that I ‘slammed the table & walked out of the room. He had a temper tantrum,’” Trump wrote, referring to NBC’s Chuck Todd.
The president contends that after Pelosi “said no to proper Border Security, I politely said bye-bye and left, no slamming!”
Cryin Chuck told his favorite lie when he used his standard sound bite that I “slammed the table & walked out of the room. He had a temper tantrum.” Because I knew he would say that, and after Nancy said no to proper Border Security, I politely said bye-bye and left, no slamming!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 10, 2019
He also fired off a tweet denying media reports that some congressional Republicans are growing frustrated with his shutdown and border wall fight tactics.
There is GREAT unity with the Republicans in the House and Senate, despite the Fake News Media working in overdrive to make the story look otherwise. The Opposition Party & the Dems know we must have Strong Border Security, but don’t want to give “Trump” another one of many wins!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 10, 2019
The congressional GOP-White House line is that Trump asked Pelosi if she would support his border wall within 30 days if he agreed to re-open nine Cabinet-level departments and some smaller offices. When Pelosi said she would not, Trump told them goodbye and left the situation room
A congressional aide familiar with the Situation Room meeting said after Pelosi turned down his idea, the president said of continuing the meeting, “What's the point?” then slammed the table and told them, “Bye, bye.”
Watch: Trump says no sign of GOP disunity, may still declare national emergency