WATCH IN FULL: Trump Delivers Oval Office Address on Shutdown, Border Wall; Pelosi & Schumer Respond: “END THIS SHUTDOWN. NOW”

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In a somber televised plea, President Donald Trump urged congressional Democrats to fund his long-promised border wall Tuesday night, blaming illegal immigration for what he called a scourge of drugs and violence in the U.S. and framing the debate over the partial government shutdown in stark terms. “This is a choice between right and wrong,” he declared.

Democrats in response accused Trump of appealing to “fear, not facts” and manufacturing a border crisis for political gain.

The back-to-back remarks by Trump and Democratic leaders appeared unlikely to do much to break the logjam that has left large swaths of the government closed. Three weeks into the shutdown, the strain was starting to show with hundreds of thousands of federal workers on track to miss paychecks this week.

Addressing the nation from the Oval Office for the first time, Trump argued for spending some $5.7 billion for a border wall on both security and humanitarian grounds as he sought to put pressure on newly empowered Democrats amid the extended shutdown.

Trump, who will visit the Mexican border in person on Thursday, invited the Democrats to return to the White House to meet with him on Wednesday, saying it was “immoral” for “politicians to do nothing.” He claimed they could resolve the standoff in “45 minutes,” but previous meetings have led to no agreement as Trump insists on the wall that was his signature promise in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Shifting between empathetic appeals and the dark immigration rhetoric that was a trademark of his presidential campaign, Trump asked: “How much more American blood must we shed before Congress does its job?”

Responding in their own televised remarks, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer accused Trump of misrepresenting the situation on the border as they urged him to reopen closed government departments and turn loose paychecks for hundreds of thousands of workers.

Negotiations on wall funding could proceed in the meantime, they said.

Schumer said Trump “just used the backdrop of the Oval Office to manufacture a crisis, stoke fear and divert attention from the turmoil in his administration.”

Overall, Trump largely restated his case for the wall without offering concessions or new ideas on how to resolve the standoff that has kept large swaths of the government closed for the past 18 days. Speaking in solemn tones from behind the Resolute Desk, he painted a dire picture of killings and drug deaths he argues come from unchecked illegal immigration.

Trump ticked off a string of statistics and claims to make his case that there is a crisis at the border, but a number of his statements were misleading, such as saying the new trade deal with Mexico would pay for the wall, or suggesting through gruesome examples that immigrants are more likely to commit crime.

Trump, who has long railed against illegal immigration at the border, has recently seized on humanitarian concerns to argue there is a broader crisis that can only be solved with a wall. But critics say the security risks are overblown and the administration is at least partly to blame for the humanitarian situation.

Trump used emotional language, referring to Americans who were killed by people in the country illegally, saying: “I’ve met with dozens of families whose loved ones were stolen by illegal immigration. I’ve held the hands of the weeping mothers and embraced the grief-stricken fathers. So sad. So terrible.”

Trump has been discussing the idea of declaring a national emergency to allow him to move forward with the wall without getting congressional approval for the billions he’s requested. But he did not mention that Tuesday night.

With his use of a formal White House speech instead of his favored Twitter blasts, Trump embraced the ceremonial trappings of his office as he tries to exit a political quagmire of his own making. For weeks he has dug in on a signature campaign promise to his base voters, the pledge to build an impregnable “beautiful” wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The partial government shutdown reached its 18th day, making the closure the second-longest in history. Hundreds of thousands of federal workers are going without pay, and government disruptions are hitting home with everyday Americans.

Trump was nearly halfway through his 9-minute address before he mentioned the wall, describing it as a request from law enforcement rather than his longstanding political pledge. He also suggested that his proposal to build the wall from steel, rather than concrete, was a concession to Democrats.

Trump sought to put the blame on Democrats for the standoff, saying they “will not fund border security.” In fact, House Democrats passed legislation the day they took control of the House that offered $1.3 billion for border security. And Senate Democrats have approved similar funding year after year.

Seeking to keep up pressure on Trump and the Republicans, Pelosi said the House would begin passing individual bills this week to reopen some federal agencies, starting with the Treasury Department to ensure Americans receive their tax refunds. The administration says it will act on its own to ensure the refunds.

Ahead of the speech, the White House sought to shore up GOP support on Capitol Hill, where a growing number of Republicans have been expressing unease with the extended shutdown. Vice President Mike Pence met privately with House Republicans, urging them to “stand strong” and insisting the White House wants to negotiate, according to people familiar with the conversation.

(AP)




11 COMMENTS

  1. From the administration that snatched children and babies from their mothers’ arms, it would be more than strange to cite humanitarian concerns.

  2. mr trump:
    please get the approval from mexico for funding.
    As long as trump fulfils his promise that mexico will pay for the wall who cares what everyone else says. But if he wants to use our tax dollars for it then we have better thinks to spend it on

  3. rt – you have a mental problem that disables your ability to go back in memory two years.

    A secure border is a necessity for a free country. If we don’t, why bother checking passports at airports?

  4. umm RT, are you aware that the administration that snatched children and babies from their mothers’ arms was the OBAMA idiotic ADMINISTRATION?? or do you not care to know the real true facts??
    do you not care how hard your grandparents worked to get YOU into the (used to be) FREE COUNTRY??
    To forget all important details and just listen to cnn nbs will do you no good.
    remember what your roots are.
    pls make your parents, grandparents, ancestors and most of all your creator proud.
    g’luck on your long quest! may Hashem be with you. Amen

    and BTW your tax money is not being used for the wall, your tax money will be used AND raised by the democrats (they say it straight out with no busha!!) with their new crooked socialist ideas of ‘eliminating the poor’ aka the green deal, medicare for all etc. etc. etc.

  5. Dear “mayerfreund”
    Can you please not be so short sentenced and maybe have the courtesy telling us what exactly are those “better things (with a “g”, not a “k”) you have on what to spend your tax money? Is it something like supporting Pakistan maybe? Or East Timor maybe? I would love to hear from you why people like you are so against supporting our president to spend our tax money on projects HERE AT HOME IN THE USA, while at the same time we don’t hear from you guys any grudge against the insane fact of our tax money being given away to countries that are 9000 miles away from here, and every single male/female living in those countries (besides the US ambassador to those countries) hates us with all their hearts and wants to see the USA go up in flames. But it’s fine, you don’t have to tell me the reason, we all know it sadly, it’s simply because the guy who happens to be the president now is called Donald Trump and not Hillary Clinton, and you guys lost the ability to enjoy life even when not everything goes your way.

  6. Now that Trump has failed to collect the payment from Mexico, why must the American taxpayers pay? He should continue negotiations with Mexico and make a great deal.

  7. But yet Obama sent BILLIONS TO IRAN without asking anyone and this is happening to Trump? We must have a wall and border security like Every other country!