Trump reportedly didn't even want to give his primetime address on border security and thought it was pointless
Associated Press/Carolyn Kaster
- President Donald Trump reportedly didn't want to give his televised address on border security on Tuesday, and thought it was pointless.
- He also doesn't want to visit the US-Mexico border on Thursday, but said during an off-the-record lunch with television anchors that he'd been talked into it by advisers, according to The New York Times.
- "It's not going to change a damn thing, but I'm still doing it," Trump reportedly said.
- Trump gave the address on the 18th day of a government shutdown, characterizing the situation at the border as a "crisis" that could required a "physical barrier."
President Donald Trump reportedly told television anchors in an off-the-record lunch on Tuesday that he didn't even want to give a televised address to the nation on border security later that day, dismissing it as pointless.
The New York Times, citing people briefed on the discussion, said he was reluctant to both give the address and agree to visit the US-Mexico border on Thursday, but was talked into both actions by his advisers.
"It's not going to change a damn thing, but I'm still doing it," Trump said, according to The Times. At one point, Trump even reportedly said the border trip was just a photo opportunity.
"These people behind you said it's worth it," he said, gesturing to aides including Bill Shine, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Kellyanne Conway.
CNN host Chris Cuomo, however, offered up a different characterization of the lunch on Tuesday, saying Trump appeared confident in his arguments.
"I was at that lunch this morning with President Trump and the vice president. The content was off the record but I will tell you he's much more compelling making this case in person than he was on the teleprompter tonight," he said. "That's going to matter."
Trump gave the address on the 18th day of a partial government shutdown, sparked by a disagreement over $5.7 billion in funding for Trump's long-promised border wall. Congressional Democrats have refused to provide the funding, and Trump has thus far refused to back down from his demands.
At certain points during his remarks, Trump backed away from calling it a "wall." He falsely said Democrats had requested a steel barrier instead of a concrete wall, though Democrats have denied that.
"Law enforcement professionals have requested $5.7 billion for a physical barrier," Trump said. "This barrier is absolutely critical to border security."
Yet critics seized on Trump's remarks, noting that many of his statements - including false and misleading remarks about drugs at the border and criminal activity among immigrants - were merely recycled arguments he has made many times in the past.
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
There had been speculation that Trump would use Tuesday's address to declare a national emergency that would allow him to bypass Congress to fund the wall, but Trump made no mention of the action, though he characterized the situation at the border as a "crisis."
"To every member of Congress, pass a bill that ends this crisis," Trump said. "This is a choice between right and wrong, justice and injustice. This is about whether we fulfill our sacred duty to the American citizens we serve."
Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi refuted Trump's remarks, accusing him of stoking fear in order to fulfill his campaign promise, at the expense of hundreds of thousands of furloughed federal workers.
"There is no excuse for hurting millions of Americans over a policy difference," Schumer said. "Federal workers are about to miss a paycheck. Some families can't get a mortgage to buy a new home. Farmers and small businesses won't get loans they desperately need."