Trump and Pence offered completely different accounts of a meeting to resolve the government shutdown
- Vice President Mike Pence and other senior Trump administration officials met on Saturday with Democratic congressional staffers about the ongoing government shutdown.
- Trump said the meeting made "not much headway" and his press secretary said "little progress was made."
- But Pence's office called the meeting "productive."
Vice President Mike Pence and other senior Trump administration officials met on Saturday with Democratic congressional staffers to try to break a deadlock over a proposed border wall and end a two-week-old partial government shutdown.
But Pence and President Donald Trump seemed to disagree about the progress made.The meeting yielded little progress, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told CNN. Mulvaney blamed Democrats for the lack of progress.
"I thought we had come in to talk about terms that we could agree on, places where we all agreed we should be spending more time, more attention, things we could do to improve our border security," he told CNN's Jake Tapper. "And yet the opening line from one of the lead Democrat negotiators was that they were not there to talk about any agreement."
Trump also indicated the meeting didn't make any progress. "V.P. Mike Pence and team just left the White House. Briefed me on their meeting with the Schumer/Pelosi representatives. Not much headway made today. Second meeting set for tomorrow. After so many decades, must finally and permanently fix the problems on the Southern Border!" he tweeted.
But a pool report from Pence's office painted the meeting in more optimistic terms and called the conversation "productive." The report said Democrats at the meeting "requested further details in writing on needs" of the Department of Homeland Security in order to come to an agreement, and Pence's office said further information would be provided to Democrats tonight or tomorrow.Trump is demanding $5.6 billion to build a wall along the US-Mexico border, but Democrats in control of the House of Representatives this week passed a bill to reopen the government without providing additional funding for the wall.
Trump has said he will not sign the bill until he gets the money for the wall.
With the two sides sticking to their positions, a quarter of the federal government has been closed for two weeks, leaving 800,000 public workers unpaid.
Before entering the talks on Saturday, Pence tweeted that the administration's goal was not just to end the shutdown but "to provide funding to end the crisis at our southern border, achieve real border security & to build the wall!"
Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and a senior adviser, also attended the meeting at the White House, along with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Mulvaney. They were negotiating with senior staff for the top Democrats in Congress.
Nancy Pelosi, the new Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, said this week that Trump's proposed wall was "immoral" and a "waste of money."Trump reiterated his demand for a border wall in a series of tweets on Saturday.
"The Democrats could solve the Shutdown problem in a very short period of time," Trump said. "All they have to do is approve REAL Border Security (including a Wall), something which everyone, other than drug dealers, human traffickers and criminals, want very badly!"
Trump threatened on Friday to take the step of using emergency powers to build the wall without Congress' approval. Such a move would almost certainly be met with legal challenges.