Donald Trump has denied the Democrats’ account of a fiery meeting about the US-Mexico border yesterday.
The President slammed his hand on a table and stormed out of a White House meeting aimed at resolving the ongoing partial government shutdown yesterday, calling it “a total waste of time”, according to Senator Chuck Schumer’s version of events.
“He couldn’t get his way and he just walked out of the meeting,” Mr Schumer said. “(Trump) slammed the table … He just walked out and said, ‘We have nothing to discuss’.”
It was also claimed that he was “constantly speaking over” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the get-together.
But taking to Twitter this morning, Mr Trump hit back at “Cryin Chuck” and deemed the Senator a liar.
“Cryin Chuck told his favourite lie when he used his standard sound bite that I ‘slammed the table & walked out of the room. He had a temper tantrum,’” the President tweeted. “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!”
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 later elaborated on events, telling reporters in Texas: “I don’t have temper tantrums.”
Mr Trump said: “If you ask Mike Pence — let me just tell you something, I very calmly said, ‘If you are not going to give us strong borders, bye-bye,’ and I left. I didn’t rant. I didn’t rave like you reported.”
He added: “I very calmly walked out of the room. I didn’t smash the table — I should have, but I didn’t smash the table.”
After the meeting, Vice President Mike Pence denied Mr Schumer’s claims, saying Mr Trump never raised his voice or slammed his hand on the table.
But Ms Pelosi accused the President of staging the meeting so he could storm out.
“Not only was the President unpresidential – surprise, surprise – yesterday in his behaviour, I think the meeting was a setup, so he could walk out, but I’ll say just that,” she said.
“I don’t even know that the President wants the wall, I think he just wants to debate on the wall.”
“Walking away” is a business tactic Mr Trump has shared several times throughout his career. In 2014, he tweeted that the “best deals you can make are the ones you walk away from”.
“Know when to walk away from the table,” he tweeted in July 2011, quoting from his 1987 book The Art Of The Deal.
Negotiations 101: The best deals you can make are the ones you walk away from…and then get them with better terms.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 2, 2014
The border battle comes as senators in South Dakota have passed a resolution urging construction of a steel barrier along the US-Mexico border.
The Republican-dominated chamber voted 28-5 on Thursday for the measure as the federal government shutdown looks set to exceed three weeks, potentially beating Bill Clinton’s record shutdown of 21 days in 1995/1996.
In a national emergency, Mr Trump should be able to draft in defence department resources to build the wall, but this is likely to face a major court challenge.
Before leaving the White House for Capitol Hill, the President told reporters that if Congress would not agree to his demand for $5.7 billion ($A8 billion) border wall funding, “we’ll go about it in a different manner”.
He said he had the “absolute right to do a national emergency if I want”, and that his threshold “will be if I can’t make a deal with people that are unreasonable”.
The Democrats are only willing to provide $US1.3 billion for border security, including fencing and surveillance, and called the wall “immoral” and unnecessary.
Asked how long he was willing to let the shutdown continue, Mr Trump replied: “Whatever it takes.”
The partial government shutdown is creating deep divisions in an already ruptured Congress, with some Republicans ready to vote against Mr Trump on the border wall.