They could be bluffing. Regardless, Donald Trump and his minions in the administration continued this weekend to recklessly threaten to shut down the federal government again in three weeks if Democrats won’t agree to fund a border “wall.”
The threats are being made after Democrats called Trump’s previous bluff on the border wall and forced him to capitulate to end the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.
“We really have no choice but to build a powerful wall or steel barrier. If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on February 15—again—or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and the constitution of the United States to address this emergency,” Trump said on Friday.
Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, whose credibility is questionable enough to give Trump a run for his money, appeared on Sunday morning TV news shows to repeat the threat.
On CBS News’ Face the Nation, host Margaret Brennan asked Mulvaney, “Is the president really prepared to shut down the government again in three weeks?” To which Mulvaney replied, “Yeah, I think he actually is. Keep in mind, he’s willing to do whatever it takes to secure the border. He does take this very seriously. This is a serious humanitarian and security crisis, and as president of the United States, he takes the security of the nation as his highest priority.”
Mulvaney claimed that “dozens” of Democrats have “come out over the last couple of weeks to say, ‘You know what, this crisis is real. Let’s figure out a way to do it properly. But we can’t do it with the government closed.’”
He then said Trump had “already showed everybody what he wants to build. The exact example. It’s not concrete. It’s not 2,000 miles long.”
But for Trump, it’s always been about a “big, beautiful wall” that Mexico was supposed to pay for. (Actually, now it’s a “powerful wall.”) Now that Mexico’s not paying for it, Trump wants taxpayers to do so, at the expense of federal workers. But with the whole “wall” thing going nowhere, administration lackeys like Mulvaney are trying to help the president move the goal posts yet again by saying it’s not even about the wall, per se. So, that leaves us with one thought: It’s about the money. And the need to declare victory when they actually lost the battle.
Trump hasn’t, in fact, presented any specific details about what he’s seeking, other than vague admissions that the “wall” could be made out of steel slats and wouldn’t stretch across the entire southern border. And he’s spreading all kinds of made-up statistics about immigration and immigrants, including this tweet from Sunday:
“Have I not been clear on the wall?” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters on Friday. “No, I have been very clear on a wall.” This seems like a bit of a gaping hole in Mulvaney’s characterization of ongoing negotiations.
Why would Democrats budge on the issue? They just handed Trump a resounding defeat that had the secondary effect of chipping away at Trump’s base (while federal workers and their families suffered immensely, of course).
“Why does the president think the outcome will be different in 21 days?” CBS’ Brennan asked. Mulvaney again cited a group of Democrats who supposedly flocked to the administration to tell Trump he’s right on border security.
“As I mentioned before, so many of them [Democrats] had come to us and say, ‘You know what, we think you might be right on this barrier thing,’” Mulvaney said.
So, was the first 35-day shutdown worth it? Brennan asked.
“We have data that there are actually hundreds of known criminals in the next caravan that is coming up from Mexico today,” Mulvaney claimed. “These are not made up numbers.”
Watch the entire interview: