POTUS slams Mick Mulvaney over shutdown talks

POTUS slams Mick Mulvaney over shutdown talks

Donald Trump slammed his new chief of staff Mick Mulvaney in front of Republican and Democratic congressional leaders during a tense meeting over the ongoing partial government shutdown.

According to Axios, the encounter came near the end of a January 4 meeting in the White House, in which the US President reiterated his demand for a $5.7 billion wall.

Mr Trump met with Democratic leaders and White House negotiators to push through a deal that would end the shutdown, which has become the longest in US history.

Given Mr Trump wanted $5.7 billion and the Democrats were offering $1.3 billion, Mr Mulvaney said the two parties should try to find a figure somewhere in the middle.

When the chief of staff suggested they reach a compromise, the President interrupted him.

“Trump cut him off,” a source told Axios.

“You just f***ed it all up, Mick,” Mr Trump said in front of congressional leaders from both parties, according to the source.

The source added the exchange was “kind of weird”.

A second source confirmed the account to Axios.

A White House spokesman told the outlet the sources’ accounts were “exaggerated”, saying it “doesn’t reflect the good relationship Mulvaney has built over the last two years with the president”. But the spokesman did not deny the exchange took place.

At the end of last year, a viral video showed Mr Mulvaney call Mr Trump’s campaign for the border wall “absurd and almost childish”. Mr Mulvaney later said he had had a change of heart on the issue.

Mr Mulvaney was named Mr Trump’s acting chief of staff in December, when he was brought on to replace John Kelly. He is also the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) director.

The report of the tense exchange comes after Mr Trump blasted former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey as a “total sleaze” and “crooked cop” over the bureau’s probe into whether Mr Trump was secretly working on Russia’s behalf.

Over the weekend, The New York Times published a story about an FBI probe into the President’s behaviour after he fired Mr Comey.

The story claimed law enforcement officials were “so concerned by the president’s behaviour that they began investigating whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests”.

In other words, counterintelligence investigators were considering whether Mr Trump’s own private dealings may have threatened his country’s national security.

The President has denied the allegations. Asked by Fox News host Jeanine Pirro whether he’d ever worked on behalf of Russia, Mr Trump said: “I think it’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked. I think it’s the most insulting article I’ve ever had written. And if you read the article, you’d see that they found absolutely nothing.”

The article also raised another issue: whether Mr Trump’s axing of Mr Comey obstructed justice.

Mr Comey was fired on May 9, 2017. If his dismissal had been a direct attempt to stop the Russia investigation on Mr Trump’s part, that could constitute a national security issue.

“Not only would it be an issue of obstructing an investigation, but the obstruction itself would hurt our ability to figure out what the Russians had done, and that is what would be the threat to national security,” former FBI general counsel James Baker said, according to the Times.

However, there has been no evidence that Mr Trump secretly worked with Kremlin officials.

Mr Trump issued a stream of angry tweets at the newspaper and the FBI, calling the latter “corrupt” and accusing them of attacking him with “no reason & with no proof”.

He said the firing of Mr Comey was “a great day for America” and repeatedly referred to him as “crooked”.

Mr Comey appeared to respond to the tweets with the quote: “I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.”

Mr Trump has also blasted recent reports by The Washington Post about his private meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The reports, which were also published over the weekend, claimed that Mr Trump had gone to “extraordinary lengths” to hide the details of his conversations with the Russian leader.

The Post claimed there was at least one occasion in which Mr Trump confiscated the notes from the interpreter present at meetings between the leaders, and instructed them not to discuss the details of the conversation.

When pressed by Pirro for details about the meetings, Mr Trump said the two world leaders had “a great conversation” and blasted the report.

“Anyone could have listened to that meeting. That meeting is open for grabs,” he said, without going into detail.

“I’m not keeping anything under wraps, I couldn’t care less. I mean, it’s so ridiculous. These people make it up.”

Likewise, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders called the report “inaccurate” in a statement.

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