President Trump made a surprise appearance in the White House briefing room on Thursday afternoon to plug his border wall.
It was his first appearance behind the podium that other presidents have used for press conferences in the nearly two years since he took office.
Surrounded by border agents, including prolific Fox News guest Brandon Judd, he insisted his wall was necessary for national security.
‘You can call it a barrier. You can call it whatever you want. But essentially, we need protection in our country,’ Trump declared. ‘We’re going to make it good. The people of our country want it.’
He left after roughly ten minutes without taking questions from reporters, despite the fact that the gathering had been billed as a ‘briefing’ with White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders.
President Trump made a surprise appearance in the White House briefing room on Thursday afternoon to plug his border wall
Surrounded by border agents, some of whom also spoke, he insisted his wall was necessary for national security
He left after roughly five minutes without taking questions from gathered reporters
Trump congratulated Nancy Pelosi on her election as speaker in the remarks, as well, that stole attention from Capitol Hill, where a new class of lawmakers had just been inaugurated.
Democrats plan to pass legislation to reopen the government this evening in one of their first acts. The bill that funds most closed areas through the end of the fiscal year are all but certain to receive approval in the House of Representatives, where Democrats are now in the majority.
Only the Department of Homeland Security is left out of a megabus bill that Democrats are teeing up for a vote. It is addressed in a companion bill that would keep it operating until Feb. 8.
Trump did not comment on the bills that his White House has called a ‘non-starter’ in his Brady Press Briefing Room.
A statement of administration policy said Thursday as Trump was speaking that he would not sign the DHS legislation, even if they passed, because it does not fund his border wall.
He said from the podium that he hoped that he and Pelosi would have a great working relationship, however, as she reprises her role as leader of the House.
‘I just want to start off by congratulating Nancy Pelosi on being elected speaker of the House. It’s a very, very great achievement, and hopefully we’re going to work together, and we’re going to get lots of things done, like infrastructure and so much more,’ he said. ‘I know they want to do that very badly. So do I.’
He declared: ‘So hopefully we’re going to have a lot of things that we can get done together, and I think it’s actually going to work out. I think it will be a little bit different than a lot of people are thinking. So I congratulate Nancy. Tremendous, tremendous achievement.’
Trump said from the podium that he hoped that he and Pelosi would have a great working relationship, however, as she reprises her role as leader of the House
President Trump hosted Pelosi and other congressional leaders at the White House on Wednesday afternoon and invited them back for more talks on Friday morning.
Pelosi said in an interview that aired Thursday that he would ‘get nothing for the wall’ and ‘no amount of persuasion’ from Trump would change her mind.
It wasn’t clear on Thursday what exactly the president planned to offer her in exchange for the wall money that Democrats have steadfastly refused to provide.
He has demanded $5.7 billion for the wall that he says can be made of steel slats.
Trump’s stop through the briefing room was a complete surprise after the White House made an overhead announcement that Sanders would be briefing in five minutes.
She came out nearly half an hour later with the members of the National Border Patrol Council, who fanned out behind the podium behind her.
‘Good afternoon. I’ll give a few of my friends a minute to get in. Thank you all for coming on short notice. And certainly, Happy New Year. Welcome back,’ she said. ‘It’s good to be back.
‘We’re gonna kick 2019 off just slightly differently, and I’d like to welcome a very special guest, for an appearance here in the briefing room, our very great president, Donald J. Trump,’ Sanders told a shocked room of reporters.
Camera shutters clicked furiously as the president walked in and said, ‘Hello everybody. This is a beautiful place. I haven’t seen it.’
‘Happy New Year. Happy New Year, everybody,’ he said, responding to a reporter in the room who had welcomed him with the same phrase.
Another journalist told Trump, ‘You’re welcome here anytime, Mr. President.’ To which he said, ‘Well, thank you very much. I appreciate that. Thank you.’
Trump explained the border council members are ‘extremely supportive of what we’re doing on the border’ and declared them patriots.
Referring to a dramatic video he had released an hour earlier of immigrants flooding the border, he said, ‘You see what’s just been put out on social media, where thousands of people are rushing the border.
‘Having drones and various other form of sensors, they’re all fine, but they’re not going to stop the problems that this country has.’
Continuing he said, ‘We’ve never had more people wanting to come to the United States. And that has to do with the economy and it has to do with a lot of other things. We’re doing great as a country. But the better we do, the more people want to come in.’
Trump also claimed in the brief remarks that he has received an outpouring of support for refusing to budge on the border wall that he said has buoyed him up during the 13-day border security showdown with Democrats.
‘I have never had so much support, as I have in the last week, over my stance for border security, for border control and for, frankly, the wall or the barrier,’ he contended. ‘I have never had anything like it in terms of calls coming in, in terms of people writing in and tweeting, and doing whatever they have to do.’
He insisted, ‘I have never had this much support. And we’ve done some things that, as you know, have been very popular.’