President Trump used his annual address to members of the armed forces to attack members of Congress and a former FBI director while defending his border wall and denying claims he colluded with Russia during the election.
During a photo op for that call, President Trump decided to defend shutting down the government over funding for his border wall and slam former FBI director James Comey.
He ended his remarks by declaring: ‘It’s a disgrace what’s happening in our country, but other than that, I wish everybody a very merry Christmas.’
Home alone: President Trump criticized Democrats and James Comey in a bizarre rant during his holiday call with troops on Tuesday (above)
At ease: After they had finished, President Trump went to address the men and women of the armed forces who were seen waiting on his call (above)
At attention: During a photo op for that call, President Trump decided to defend shutting down the government over funding for his border wall
The US government partially shut down on Saturday, and there is still no sign of any tangible efforts to reopen agencies closed by a political impasse over Trump’s demand for border wall funds.
‘I can’t tell you when the government is going to reopen,’ said Trump on Tuesday.
‘I can tell you it’s not going to reopen until we have a wall, a fence, whatever they’d like to call it. I’ll call it whatever they want, but it’s all the same thing. It’s a barrier from people pouring into the country, from drugs.’
He continued: ‘If you don’t have that, then we’re just not opening.’
Funding for about a quarter of federal programs – including the departments of Homeland Security, Justice and Agriculture – expired at midnight on Friday.
Without a deal to break the impasse, the shutdown is likely to stretch into the new year.
Building the wall was one of Trump’s most frequently repeated campaign promises, but Democrats are vehemently opposed to it.
He had initially promised that Mexico would pay for the wall, but now insists that taxpayers absorb the cost.
President Trump has also now said he is willing to raise a fence instead of a wall
Earlier in the day, President Trump and the First Lady released their annual Christmas message.
‘Melania and I are truly thrilled to wish every American a very, merry Christmas,’ said President Trump at the start of the video.
‘During the Christmas season we rejoice in God’s many blessings. We come together to spread hope, love, compassion, cheer and goodwill,’ said Melania.
‘And we remember the events of one holy night more than 2,000 years ago.’
On Monday night, President Trump and the First Lady tracked Santa’s sleigh across North America and spoke to a few young children.
In a bizarre and almost cruel move, President Trump opted to raise doubts about the existence of Santa while speaking to one 7-year-old boy.
The call to American defense agency NORAD, which ‘tracks’ Santa’s movements around the world, was one of several answered by Trump and his wife Melania as part of a Christmas Eve tradition.
It began innocuously enough: ‘Hello, is this Coleman? Merry Christmas. How are you? How old are you?’
But Trump then ventured into dangerous waters, asking: ‘Are you still a believer in Santa Claus? Because at seven it’s marginal, right?’
The couple then headed off to the National Cathedral for Midnight Mass.
Their son Barron was not with them however, with the young boy remaining in Palm Beach when his mother flew back to Washington DC on Monday.
United front: President Trump and wife Melania released their annual Christmas message on Tuesday morning (President Trump and Melania above)
Yuletide gloom: During his calls with children on Monday night, President Trump told one boy that believing in Santa was ‘marginal’ (President Trump and the First Lady above)
Trump had said he’d be ‘proud’ to shut down the government in a fight over the wall, but now blames Democrats for refusing to vote for a House-passed bill that includes the $5.7 billion he wants for the wall.
The White House presented a counteroffer over the weekend to Schumer that is between Trump’s $5.7 billion price tag and the $1.3 billion Democrats have offered, said budget director Mick Mulvaney.
He did not elaborate, but a Democratic aide granted anonymity to discuss the private talks said the White House offered $2.5 billion – an initial $2.1 billion plus $400 million Democrats called a ‘slush fund’ for the president’s other immigration priorities.
Mulvaney said he was waiting for Schumer’s response. Schumer’s office said the parties remained ‘very far apart.’
Trump chimed in Monday from the White House, where he has been cooped up since Saturday, when the shutdown began.
Trump, who typically spends Christmas at his Florida estate, tweeted at one point Monday about feeling lonely.
‘I am all alone (poor me) in the White House waiting for the Democrats to come back and make a deal on desperately needed Border Security,’ he tweeted.
‘At some point the Democrats not wanting to make a deal will cost our Country more money than the Border Wall we are all talking about. Crazy!’
Trump met Monday on border security with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and other department officials.
Senate negotiators continued talks behind the scenes with Democrats and Republicans.
The House and Senate briefly gaveled into session on Christmas Eve before quickly closing again with no further action.
Several Cabinet departments and agencies have been closed since Saturday after their funding lapsed, and Mulvaney warned the shutdown could stretch into January, when Democrats are set to take back control the House.
Trump excused federal employees from work on Monday and Christmas is a federal holiday, meaning the public could begin feeling the shutdown’s effects on Wednesday.
Some 800,000 federal workers must either work without pay for the time being, or stay home and wait to be paid later.