After their White House meeting, Schumer said that the president threw a “temper tantrum because he couldn’t get his way.”
“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,’” Schumer said. “He said it was a waste of his time.”
Schumer added: “This was really unfortunate and in my judgment somewhat unbecoming of a presidency.”
“Not only was the president unpresidential yesterday — surprise, surprise — in his behavior, I think the meeting was a setup so that he could walk out,” Pelosi said during her weekly press briefing Thursday.
Trump is demanding Congress allocate $5.7 billion for the construction of a physical barrier on the U.S. border with Mexico in exchange for reopening the government. Democrats are refusing to do so, and want the government reopened while border negotiations continue.
About 800,000 federal employees, approximately half of whom are working without pay, have been affected by the ongoing shutdown, now in its 20th day.
Moments after the White House meeting imploded, the president took to Twitter to vent his frustration.
“Just left a meeting with Chuck and Nancy, a total waste of time,” Trump tweeted. “I asked what is going to happen in 30 days if I quickly open things up, are you going to approve Border Security which includes a Wall or Steel Barrier? Nancy said, NO. I said bye-bye, nothing else works!”
The president is heading to McAllen, Texas, on Thursday to showcase what he claims is a humanitarian crisis on the border. Departing the White House, Trump told reporters that he will “maybe definitely” declare a national emergency in order to pay for his border wall.
“I’ll probably will do it, maybe definitely,” the president said.
Trump also said his signature campaign promise — that Mexico would pay for the wall — was not meant to be taken literally.
“When I said Mexico would pay for the wall in front of thousands and thousands of people, obviously I never said and never meant they’re going to write out a check,” he said. “Mexico will pay for the wall indirectly.”
The president said the renegotiated U.S. trade deal with Mexico, which Congress has yet to approve, will effectively pay for the wall. But in 2016, the Trump campaign published a since-deleted plan on its website saying his administration would force Mexico to “make a one-time payment of $5-10 billion” for the border wall.
Hours before their abruptly adjourned sit-down, Schumer and Pelosi appeared alongside nearly two dozen furloughed government employees at a press conference. The federal workers were asked by a reporter to raise their hand if they supported the president’s position on the wall, as Trump has repeatedly claimed. None of them did.
“This is an example of the president being almost delusionary,” Pelosi said. “He says to us, ‘Workers are calling me saying, I’ll stay out without a paycheck, as long as it takes.’ And it’s like, well, who? Give us names.”
Speaking to reporters inside the Oval Office, Trump suggested the support is being expressed to him via social media.
“The beautiful thing is, with social media, the world can write to you,” the president said. “You take a look at social media, so many of those people are saying, ‘It’s very hard for me, it’s very hard for my family, but, Mr. President, you’re doing the right thing.’”