President Donald Trump has boxed himself into a situation with no endgame in his government shutdown standoff over a border wall, a new report claims.
Citing an unnamed former White House official, Vanity Fair reported on Tuesday that Trump believes he will not be reelected in 2020 if the wall is not built, and has made the issue his ‘personal Alamo’.
Trump reportedly told aides that he is prepared to make his ‘last stand’ on the wall issue, staking his entire presidency on constructing the border barrier that he called for forcefully in a Tuesday night address to the nation from the Oval Office.
‘The president put himself in a box,’ the former official in touch with the White House told the magazine. ‘The problem is there’s no endgame. Right now the White House is at a seven on the panic scale. If this thing goes on past the State of the Union they’re going to be at an 11.’
President Donald Trump, joined by Senate Republican leaders, speaks on the government shutdown, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday
US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer speak to the media following a meeting with Trump on Wednesday
The State of the Union address is scheduled for January 29, at which point the partial federal government shutdown would be 38 days old. The longest continuous government shutdown in U.S. history lasted 21 days in 1995 and 1996.
Trump’s Alamo mentality is reportedly also making some Congressional Republicans nervous.
One Republican close to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Vanity Fair that the White House’s handling of the shutdown standoff was ‘total f**king chaos’.
It comes as Trump prepares to visit the border at McAllen, Texas on Thursday – a move that the President reportedly described as a pointless photo-op in an off-the-record luncheon with television news anchors on Thursday.
‘It’s not going to change a d**n thing, but I’m still doing it,’ Trump said of the planned border visit, one of the people who was in the room told the New York Times.
‘But these people behind you say it’s worth it,’ Trump reportedly added, gesturing at communications aides Bill Shine, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Kellyanne Conway.
Trump blasted the leak in a tweet on Wednesday night, writing: ‘Gave an OFF THE RECORD luncheon, somewhat of a White House tradition or custom, to network anchors yesterday – and they quickly leaked the contents of the meeting. Who would believe how bad it has gotten with the mainstream media, which has gone totally bonkers!’
McAllen is located in the Rio Grande Valley, the busiest part of the border for illegal border crossings.
In McAllen on Thursday, Trump will visit a border patrol station for a roundtable on immigration and border security, and will get a security briefing on the border.
The U.S. border is seen in a file photo from the Mexican side near McAllen, Texas, where Trump will spend Thursday at a border security roundtable and briefing session
On Wednesday, Trump ratcheted up tension in the shutdown standoff in dramatic fashion by storming out of a meeting with Congressional Democrats.
The White House meeting in the Situation Room ended after just 14 minutes.
‘Just left a meeting with Chuck and Nancy, a total waste of time,’ Trump tweeted soon after the meeting, referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
‘I asked what is going to happen in 30 days if I quickly open things up, are you going to approve Border Security which includes a Wall or Steel Barrier? Nancy said, NO. I said bye-bye, nothing else works!’
Vice President Mike Pence told reporters gathered outside the West Wing that Trump had indeed ended the meeting quickly when Pelosi said Democrats were not prepared to make him any guarantees.
Schumer accused Trump of a ‘temper tantrum’ and told reporters outside the White House: ‘He sort of slammed the table and when Leader Pelosi said she didn’t agree with the wall he just walked out and said: ‘We have nothing to discuss.”
‘He said it was a waste of his time,’ House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer charged.
Pelosi charged that Trump ‘seems to be insensitive’ to the impact of a partial government shutdown on rank-and-file federal employees who will see their first lapse in payroll on Friday.
‘He thinks maybe they can just ask their father for more money. But they can’t,’ she jabbed.
Pelosi added that she had told the president that ‘the evidence does not support the situation you describe,’ referring to his claims that human trafficking, narcotics smuggling and a criminal epidemic constitute a border crisis.
Schumer recounted a scene where Trump ‘sort of slammed the table, and when Leader Pelosi said she didn’t agree with the wall he just walked out and said, ‘We have nothing to discuss’.’
‘This was really, really unfortunate and in my judgment somewhat unbecoming of the presidency,’ Schumer complained.
Pence and House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy played clean-up, painting a picture of a congenial meeting that the Democrats fouled through sheer stubbornness with the President even offering candy to his Democratic rivals.
‘The president walked into the room and passed out candy,’ Pence said. ‘I don’t recall him ever raising his voice or slamming his hand. This is a president who feels very strongly about his commitment to see to the security of the American people.’
McCarthy charged Democrats with lying about what happened in meeting.
A White House official told DailyMail.com that the President offered participants ‘little mini candy bars – M&Ms, peanut butter cups, Butterfingers.’