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Senate Democrats Boost Pressure on Trump, Republicans to End Shutdown

As President Donald Trump prepares to pressure Democrats on border wall funding with a nationally televised address Tuesday night, Senate Democrats are pushing back by pledging a blockade of legislation until the Republican-controlled chamber votes on a spending bill to reopen shuttered U.S. government agencies.

Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar urged her colleagues in a tweet Tuesday to focus efforts on ending the shutdown.

Klobuchar joined a chorus of Senate Democrats pressuring Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to allow votes on bills the Democratically-led House of Representatives passed last week to fund government agencies that saw their spending authority expire in December.

Virginia Democrat Mark Warner echoed the sentiment on Twitter.

With rare exception, Senate rules mandate three-fifths backing to advance any bill that fails to garner unanimous support. Republicans have a 53-47 majority in the chamber, well short of 60 votes that would be required to advance legislation on their own.

McConnell, who has broad authority to determine which bills come to the floor for a vote, repeatedly has stated that he will not allow the Senate to consider any funding bill Trump opposes.

“Democrats will have to get serious about border security so that a government funding agreement can pass the House, earn 60 votes in the Senate, and receive a presidential signature. All three of these things are needed,” the majority leader tweeted last week.

Trump is demanding billions of taxpayer dollars for wall construction along the U.S.-Mexico border. The House-passed spending bills would extend overall border security operations but set aside no money for a wall.

If Senate Democrats follow through on their legislative blockade pledge, the first casualty would be a bill covering security assistance for Israel, U.S.-Jordanian defense cooperation, and efforts to aid and protect Syrian civilians.

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Russian Lawyer At Heart of Trump Tower Meeting Indicted

A federal grand jury has indicted a Kremlin-linked lawyer, who met U.S. President Donald Trump’s eldest son and other members of his campaign in 2016, on charges of obstruction of justice in a case that highlights her ties to the Russian government, despite her repeated denial.  

Natalia Veselnitskaya, who is believed to be in Russia, is accused of secretly working with a Russian government prosecutor to draft a false declaration in the course of her legal representation of a Russian firm that was sued by the U.S. government for money laundering, according to an indictment unsealed on Tuesday.

The 43-year-old Russian lawyer entered the spotlight in 2017 after it was disclosed that she had held a secret meeting with Donald Trump Jr., President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort at Trump Tower in June of 2016.  

The president’s eldest son later released emails showing he agreed to the meeting after he was told by an intermediary that Veselnitskaya represented the Russian government and had damaging information about Trump’s rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Donald Trump Jr. later said that the meeting instead focused on the repeal of the Magnitsky Act, a U.S. accountability law named after Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who was allegedly beaten to death in prison in 2009 after accusing Russian officials of tax fraud.

The firm Veselnitskaya represented in New York, Prevezon Holdings, was at the heart of the $230 million tax fraud scheme uncovered by Magnitsky. In the case, U.S. prosecutors sought to prove that the company had laundered the proceeds of the scheme involving corrupt Russian officials.

Veselnitskaya’s 2015 declaration in the Prevezon case “presented supposed investigative findings by the Russian government” where in fact she had drafted those findings in secret cooperation with a senior Russian prosecutor, U.S. prosecutors said.

“Fabricating evidence  submitting false and deceptive declarations to a federal judge in an attempt to affect the outcome of pending litigation not only undermines the integrity of the judicial process, but it threatens the ability of our courts and our Government to ensure that justice is done,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating the circumstances leading up to the 2016 Trump Tower meeting and subsequent statements made by Trump and his son about the meeting.

The special counsel’s office declined to comment on the latest indictment,  

Trump has defended the meeting, tweeting last year it was “totally legal and done all the time in politics.”    

Veselnitskaya told CNN on Tuesday that she will “defend her professional honor.”

The Prevezon case was settled in 2017.

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Eyeing 2020, Harris Addresses Prosecutorial Past in Memoir

As she nears a decision on whether to seek the presidency, Sen. Kamala Harris is taking on what could be a hurdle in a Democratic primary: her past as a prosecutor.

In her memoir published Tuesday, the California Democrat describes herself as a “progressive prosecutor” and says it’s a “false choice” to decide between supporting the police and advocating for greater scrutiny of law enforcement. The argument is aimed at liberal critics of her record who argue she was sometimes too quick to side with the police and too slow to adopt sentencing reforms.

 

“I know that most police officers deserve to be proud of their public service and commended for the way they do their jobs,” Harris writes in “The Truths We Hold.” “I know how difficult and dangerous the job is, day in and day out, and I know how hard it is for the officers’ families, who have to wonder if the person they love will be coming home at the end of each shift.”

 

But, she continues, “I also know this: it is a false choice to suggest you must either be for the police or for police accountability. I am for both. Most people I know are for both. Let’s speak some truth about that, too.”

 

After high-profile fatal shootings involving police officers and unarmed people of color, the criminal justice system’s treatment of minorities is a top issue among Democratic voters. The passage suggests Harris is aware that her seven years as the district attorney in San Francisco, followed by six years as California’s attorney general, is something she will have to explain and signals how she may frame her law enforcement career if she decides to run for the White House.

 

“It’s a presidential campaign, and every aspect of a candidate’s record is going to be scrutinized and they’re going to have to answer for it,” said Mo Elleithee, a longtime Democratic operative who leads Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service. “She knows that this is something that’s heading her way and a good candidate is one who doesn’t wait for it to hit them. A good candidate is someone who addresses it proactively, and she appears to be doing that.”

 

Beyond the book, Harris recently supported legislation that passed the Senate late last year and overhauls the criminal justice system, especially when it comes to sentencing rules.

 

In the book, Harris recounts an instance when she was an intern at the Alameda County district attorney’s office and an innocent bystander was one of many people arrested during a drug raid. Harris said she “begged” and “pleaded” on a late Friday afternoon for a judge to hear the case so the woman could avoid spending the weekend in jail.

 

Kate Chatfield, the policy director of the California-based criminal justice reform group Re:store Justice, said that Harris did do “some good” when she was in law enforcement but that it was “incumbent on the public to hold her accountable for the ways in which she either didn’t do enough or actually did some harm.”

 

“When the conversation shifts, one should be expected to be questioned about those choices,” Chatfield said, noting among other issues Harris’s advocacy for tougher truancy laws.

 

By addressing policing in the book, Harris is taking on an issue that confronted Democrats and some Republicans in 2016. Democrat Hillary Clinton was criticized for her husband’s role in passing the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which created stricter penalties for drug offenders and funneled billions of dollars toward more police and new prisons.

 

The issue is likely to be the subject of fierce debate in 2020 as well and could expose divisions among the wide field of candidates — presenting hurdles for some and opportunity for others.

 

Former Vice President Joe Biden was the head of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee when the 1994 crime bill — which is now criticized as having helped create an era of mass incarceration — was passed and signed into law, which could be an obstacle for him. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker was central to the passage of the Senate’s criminal justice overhaul package and is certain to tout it if he decides to launch a presidential campaign. Meanwhile, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who is also considering a 2020 bid, often refers to her own prosecutorial past.

 

The memoir — and the publicity surrounding it — will shift the 2020 campaign spotlight to Harris this week after much of the focus has been on her Senate colleague, Elizabeth Warren. Last week, the Massachusetts Democrat became the most prominent person yet to take steps toward a presidential run by launching an exploratory committee. Her weekend trip to the leadoff caucus state of Iowa also generated largely flattering headlines.

 

Some criminal justice advocates said they were happy the issue would get more attention in 2020.

 

“When we had the 2016 elections, it was at the height of Ferguson and Baltimore, and we still didn’t have serious engagement with criminal justice reform,” said Phillip Goff, the director of the Center for Policing Equity, referring to the protests that followed the deaths of black men by police officers in Missouri and Maryland. “My hope is that we require candidates to demonstrate that they know more than the catchphrases of the activists in their bases.”

 

Surveys underscore the potency of criminal justice issues among Democrats. A February 2018 poll conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that majorities of Democrats — but far fewer Republicans — think there’s been little progress for African-Americans on criminal justice or policing issues over the past 50 years. The poll showed that 45 percent of Americans, including 62 percent of Democrats and 19 percent of Republicans, thought there had been little to no progress on fair treatment for black Americans by the criminal justice system. Similarly, 46 percent of Americans, including 63 percent of Democrats and 23 percent of Republicans, said there’s been little to no progress for African-Americans on fair treatment by police.

 

While it’s not yet clear how Harris’ prosecutorial background could affect her primary bid, it could help her if she faces President Donald Trump in the 2020 general election.

 

“He ran as the law-and-order president,” Elleithee said of Trump. “Being able to go toe-to-toe with him on law and order in a smarter way, I think, is going to be important. Should she win the nomination and does it by navigating this topic well, then I think she would be a strong voice and a force to be reckoned with when it comes to issues of law and order, criminal justice and civil rights as they collide in a general election.”

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Julian Castro Vows to Champion Health Care, Housing During 2020 Bid

Former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro introduced himself to Iowa Democrats on Monday night as a champion for universal health care and affordable housing as he indicated he was close to launching a run for the presidency.

 

Castro spoke with party activists at a crowded house party in North Liberty after forming an exploratory committee last month. Castro said that he would announce his presidential campaign on Saturday in San Antonio and that he looked forward to meeting with Iowa voters before the first-in-the-nation caucuses next year.

 

Castro said that he would lay out his vision for making the United States “the smartest, the healthiest, the fairest and the most prosperous nation in the world.” He said that his plans will include expanding Medicare to allow access for all and addressing what he called a housing affordability crisis in which rising rents are squeezing the poor and middle class.

Castro, who served as the nation’s housing secretary during President Barack Obama’s second term, also promised that he will not accept money from political action committees tied to corporations and unions.

“What you’re going to hear from me is that I’m not taking that PAC money, that I support universal health care, and that I’ve shown in my time in public service an ability to stand with the people instead of the special interests, and I’ve taken action to do that,” said Castro, 44.

 

Castro shook hands, spoke and fielded questions for an hour as guests sipped wine from plastic cups. He received a warm welcome from the activists, who said they were eager for someone who could defeat President Donald Trump in the 2020 election. North Liberty is a fast-growing bedroom community that’s located near Iowa City in Johnson County, which has long been the state’s liberal stronghold.

 

Castro’s visit was the latest activity in Iowa as the field of candidates seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination begins to take shape. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts visited the state over the weekend after forming her own exploratory committee, and several more candidates are expected to join the race soon.

 

Castro acknowledged that some Democrats will view his and other candidates’ decisions to not accept PAC money as tantamount to “bringing a knife to a gun fight.” But he said that the Democratic nominee will have no problem raising money from individuals who want change and that the decision sends an important message.

 

“I think it says something, that if a candidate doesn’t take that money, they’re going to work for you,” he said. “If I’m elected, that’s what I’m going to do.”

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Democrats Tour Border Warn Trump Against Diverting Funds for Wall

A Congressional delegation of Democrats touring a Border Patrol facility in New Mexico on Monday warned President Donald Trump against circumventing Congress and diverting already appropriated money towards building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

“He can expect a strong and swift challenge from all of us and other members of Congress, and from the American people,” said U.S. Representative Joaquin Castro, when asked about Trump’s planned address to the nation and his visit to the border on Thursday.

Castro, a Democrat from San Antonio, is leading a Congressional delegation visiting the Border Patrol facility in Alamogordo, New Mexico to investigate the death of 8-year-old Felipe Gomez Alonzo, the second child to die in December after being apprehended crossing the border illegally.

Democrats, who now control the U.S. House of Representatives, have rejected the Republican president’s demand for $5.7 billion to help build a wall. Without a deal on that sticking point, talks to fund the government — now in the 17th day of a shutdown — have stalled.

Trump has vowed not to back off his 2016 campaign promise to build a wall that he believes will stem illegal immigration and drug trafficking. He promised during the campaign that Mexico would pay for the wall. Mexico has refused to do so.

Democrats in Congress say a wall would be expensive, inefficient and immoral.

In New Mexico, Border Patrol agents walked the Congressional delegation through the holding areas of the Alamogordo station, which Representative Jerry Nadler, a Democrat from New York, said were “miraculously” empty.

Castro said the Border Patrol did not provide a report about Gomez’s death nor did they tour the hospital where he was treated for a cold and then released with a prescription for antibiotics and ibuprofen. The boy died shortly after his release.

“We know that CBP is woefully under equipped in terms of its standards of medical care, but we also need to find out whether the doctors in the hospital – how responsible they were in terms of that case,” Castro said.

The Border Patrol itself has said their facilities are not properly equipped to hold families, Castro said. “I think all of us who look at what they have here believe that that is true.”

U.S. Representative Veronica Escobar, a Democrat from El Paso, said the area where Gomez and his father turned themselves over to Border Patrol is on American soil and already fenced.

“The wall only pushes people out to more dangerous, treacherous crossings, creating even more death,” she said.

Illegal crossings at the southern border have dropped dramatically since the late 1970s, but in recent years more Central American families and unaccompanied children are migrating to the United States. Many are released after turning themselves into border agents and requesting asylum, a legal process that can take years to resolve in U.S. immigration courts.

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White House Paints Crisis at Border, Considers Declaring National Emergency 

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is pushing hard to portray the southern border with Mexico as an imminent “humanitarian and national security crisis” to win support for border wall funding in a fight with lawmakers that has brought the country to an 18-day partial government shutdown.

Trump is set to make that case to the nation in a televised address Tuesday, before traveling to the border on Thursday.

Ahead of the speech, Vice President Mike Pence briefed reporters Monday, stressing that there is a “bona fide crisis” at the border, and blaming Democrats for “refusing to negotiate” to reopen the government.

Pence was joined by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who said that status quo funding and laws are “not able to address the crisis that we’re seeing at the border.”

Democrats and several immigration advocates say the administration’s representation of the issue is inaccurate, and accuse it of manufacturing a crisis for the political purpose of building the border wall, which Trump campaigned for as a presidential candidate in 2016.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer issued a statement late Monday calling for television networks to give Democrats a chance to respond to Trump’s speech, saying that his history suggests the address “will be full of malice and misinformation.”

They also said the president needs to accept that his wall plan does not have sufficient support in Congress.

“Democrats and an increasing number of Republicans in Congress have repeatedly urged the President and Leader McConnell to end the Trump Shutdown and re-open the government while Congress debates the President’s expensive and ineffective wall,” Pelosi and Schumer said.

Within the past two weeks, Democratic leadership visited the White House twice to negotiate a deal with the president, and failed. They said that weekend negotiations on border security also failed to show progress.

National emergency?

The White House is looking into the legality of declaring a national emergency at the border to begin wall construction without congressional approval. In his briefing, Pence said Trump continues to weigh the idea but has yet to make a decision.

There is no end in sight for the shutdown that has halted a quarter of U.S. government operations since Dec. 22 and forced some 800,000 federal employees to be furloughed or work without pay.

Asked at what point workers’ pain outweighs the president’s desire for a border barrier, Pence said the administration understands the burden faced by government workers but hopes “we don’t find out.” 

Responding to Democrats’ request, the Office of Management and Budget sent a revised estimate for the proposals for wall funding to the U.S. Senate’s Appropriations Committee. 

Along with $5.6 billion for the wall, the administration has called for another $800 million for “urgent humanitarian needs” to take care of migrants at the border.

Tax refunds will be paid

Russell Vought, OMB’s acting director, said tax refunds for Americans will be processed and will not be considered “non-accepted activities” during the shutdown. 

“We are making this as painless as possible, consistent with the law,” he said.

Democrats plan to start passing legislation aimed at funding individual agencies that have been shuttered, in particular the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service.

Pelosi called it “an action necessary to make sure working families received their tax refunds on schedule.”

Trump has said he opposes a piecemeal approach that does not resolve his demand for a wall. 

Concrete or steel?

Opposition Democrats have refused Trump’s demand for wall funding, but offered $1.3 billion in new spending for border security.

Semantics may provide negotiating room over the impasse, as Democrats appear more amenable to approving money for “fencing” rather than a “wall” and Trump is now saying he would agree to a steel barrier instead of a concrete wall. On Dec. 21 he tweeted a photograph of a “steel slat barrier” he called “totally effective while at the same time beautiful!” 

“If in fact a compromise emerges, it will be over a change in some of the rhetoric,” said Steven Billet, legislative affairs program director at the George Washington University. He added that once “we start talking about border security as an alternative, we may be able to find a way to provide some funding that is satisfactory to the president and House Democrats.”

Speaking to reporters Friday, Trump said, “I think we are probably talking about steel, because I really feel the other side feels better about it, and I can understand what they are saying.”

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Trump Sets Immigration Speech, Trip to Southern Border with Mexico

U.S. President Donald Trump says he is addressing the nation Tuesday about the “humanitarian and national security crisis” on the country’s U.S.-Mexican border before traveling there Thursday for a firsthand look at efforts to thwart illegal immigration.

Trump announced the prime-time nationally televised address Monday shortly after news secretary Sarah Sanders said the U.S. leader would “meet with those on the frontlines” of controlling access across the 3,200-kilometer border with Mexico. She said more details of the trip would be announced soon.

Trump’s visit to the border would come in the midst of what is now a 17-day partial government shutdown centering on a dispute over his demand for more than $5 billion in funding to build a barrier to block migrants, most of them from Central American countries, from crossing into the United States.

Opposition Democrats have blocked funding for the wall, but offered $1.3 billion in new spending for border security.

There was no end in sight Monday for the shutdown that has halted about a quarter of U.S. government operations since December 22nd.

Trump, however, now is saying he would agree to a steel barrier instead of a concrete wall he has long vowed to build.

Trump said again Monday that he could declare a national emergency to build the wall without approval from lawmakers, but added on Twitter, “Let’s get our deal done in Congress!

Trump’s tweet referenced Democratic Congressman Adam Smith, the new chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, citing him as saying there is a provision in the law that allows the president to declare an emergency. Later on CNN, however, Smith said that declaring an emergency would be “horrible policy” and a “terrible idea,” and that the president would be challenged in court if he sought to build the wall without congressional authorization.

​The Trump administration called for approval of $5.7 billion for the wall, along with another $800 million for “urgent humanitarian needs” to take care of migrants arriving at the border trying to enter the United States.

But Democrats opposed to Trump’s demand for the wall said there was no progress in talks over the weekend over how to resolve the border security issue and reopen the government.

Democrats in the House of Representatives plan to starting passing legislation aimed at funding individual agencies that have been shuttered, but the president says he is opposed to a piecemeal approach that does not resolve his demand for a wall. Democrats have offered $1.3 billion in new border security funding, but nothing for a wall.

As a new work week began in the United States, about 380,000 government workers remained furloughed, while another 420,000 were deemed essential and required to work with no idea when they will receive their next paycheck. In past U.S. government shutdowns, the workers were paid retroactively once the funding impasses were resolved and Washington officials expect the same thing will occur again this time.

Trump said Sunday he can “relate” to the workers missing paychecks starting this week, but said he expects the 800,000 workers “that are on the receiving end will make adjustments. They always do. People understand what’s going on.”

He said, “Many of those people that won’t be receiving a paycheck, many of those people agree 100 percent with what I’m doing,” although there has been no survey of government workers’ views on Trump’s wall proposal. Some border security officials said they agree with his demand for a wall.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said a priority would be to reopen the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service, “an action necessary to make sure working families received their tax refunds on schedule.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected a previous House package that would have funded most of the agencies through the end of September and the Department of Homeland Security for a month to allow for further border security negotiations. McConnell called the plan a “non-starter,” saying it was a waste of time for the Senate to vote on any shutdown-related legislation that Trump opposes.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer called on McConnell to bring the new set of bills reopening individual agencies to a Senate vote once they pass the House.

“They are essentially the same funding bills that the Republican Senate wrote and approved by a 92-6 margin during the last Congress,” Hoyer said in a statement Sunday.

Trump contends the wall is needed to stop migrants from illegally crossing into the U.S. from Mexico, as well as preventing drug trafficking and terrorism.

Democrats say the wall is immoral and would be an ineffective and expensive effort.

Trump said Sunday that if Democrats are willing to make a deal, one could be reached “in 20 minutes if they want to.”

Otherwise, Trump said, the shutdown is “going to go on for a long time.”

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Partial US Government Shutdown Enters 17th Day

The partial U.S. government shutdown entered its 17th day Monday with no end in sight.

President Donald Trump is still demanding more than $5 billion to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border to thwart illegal immigration before reopening the quarter of the government that has been closed since December 22nd. Trump, however, now is saying he would agree to a steel barrier instead of a concrete wall he has long vowed to build.

Trump said again Monday that he could declare a national emergency to build the wall without approval from lawmakers, but added on Twitter, “Let’s get our deal done in Congress!”

Trump’s tweet referenced Democratic Congressman Adam Smith, the new chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Trump cited him as saying there is a provision in the law that allows the president to declare an emergency. Later on CNN, Smith said that declaring an emergency would be “horrible policy” and a “terrible idea.” Smith said the president would be challenged in court.

​The Trump administration called for approval of $5.7 billion for the wall, along with another $800 million for “urgent humanitarian needs” to take care of migrants arriving at the border trying to enter the United States.

But Democrats opposed to Trump’s demand for the wall said there was no progress in talks over the weekend over how to resolve the border security issue and reopen the government.

Democrats in the House of Representatives plan to starting passing legislation aimed at funding individual agencies that have been shuttered, but the president says he is opposed to a piecemeal approach that does not resolve his demand for a wall. Democrats have offered $1.3 billion in new border security funding, but nothing for a wall.

As a new work week began in the United States, about 380,000 government workers remained furloughed, while another 420,000 were deemed essential and required to work with no idea when they will receive their next paycheck. In past U.S. government shutdowns, the workers were paid retroactively once the funding impasses were resolved and Washington officials expect the same thing will occur again this time.

Trump said Sunday he can “relate” to the workers missing paychecks starting this week, but said he expects the 800,000 workers “that are on the receiving end will make adjustments. They always do. People understand what’s going on.”

He said, “Many of those people that won’t be receiving a paycheck, many of those people agree 100 percent with what I’m doing,” although there has been no survey of government workers’ views on Trump’s wall proposal. Some border security officials said they agree with his demand for a wall.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said a priority would be to reopen the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service, “an action necessary to make sure working families received their tax refunds on schedule.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected a previous House package that would have funded most of the agencies through the end of September and the Department of Homeland Security for a month to allow for further border security negotiations. McConnell called the plan a “non-starter,” saying it was a waste of time for the Senate to vote on any shutdown-related legislation that Trump opposes.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer called on McConnell to bring the new set of bills reopening individual agencies to a Senate vote once they pass the House.

“They are essentially the same funding bills that the Republican Senate wrote and approved by a 92-6 margin during the last Congress,” Hoyer said in a statement Sunday.

Trump contends the wall is needed to stop migrants, mostly from Central American countries, from illegally crossing into the U.S. from Mexico, as well as preventing drug trafficking and terrorism.

Democrats say the wall is immoral and would be an ineffective and expensive effort.

Trump said Sunday that if Democrats are willing to make a deal, one could be reached “in 20 minutes if they want to.”

Otherwise, Trump said, the shutdown is “going to go on for a long time.”

 

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Trump Shows No Sign of Bending on Wall Funding Demand

U.S. President Donald Trump showed no signs Sunday of backing down on his demand for taxpayer funding for a wall along the southern border with Mexico, saying there is “not going to be any bend” on his part.

“We have to build a wall, a barrier. It can be steel,” Trump told reporters at the White House before heading to his Maryland retreat at Camp David for discussions with key administration officials about border security and policies they plan to pursue this year.

In the meantime, Trump is engaged in a dispute with opposition Democratic lawmakers over his demand for more than $5 billion in funding for the barrier, a stalemate that has shut down about a quarter of U.S. government operations for 16 days, already one of the longest government closures in U.S. history.

“This shutdown could end tomorrow, or it could go on a long time,” Trump said, noting that Democrats refusing his demand for wall funding have voted for barriers at the U.S.-Mexican border in the past. “Democrats agree, you need border security.”

Trump said he does not expect anything to come out of a second day of negotiations Sunday between top White House officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, and key congressional aides on how to bridge differences over border security and Trump’s demand for wall funding. But he said progress could be made in talks over the next few days.

The U.S. leader said, “If we don’t have border security, we’ll be crime ridden,” with people crossing into the U.S. illegally “killing our citizens.” He said supporters, who often cheered his call for a wall during his successful 2016 run for the White House, are telling him, “Make sure you win this battle.”

He said, “People that didn’t vote for Donald Trump also want border security.”

 Democrats have offered Trump $1.3 billion in new funding for border security, but not for a wall, which they say is an immoral, ineffective way of controlling border access to thwart illegal immigration. They have called for heightened use of technology to catch immigrants trying to cross into the U.S. along the 3,200-kilometer border with Mexico.

Trump declared, as he first did on Friday, “I may declare a national emergency, depending on what happens in the next few days,” to build the wall without congressional approval by using money that had been designated for military construction projects.

The shutdown has forced the closure of museums in Washington, with trash going uncollected at understaffed national parks. If the shutdown extends to February, food assistance for poorer Americans would be curtailed, as would tax refunds at the height of the annual period when Americans file tax returns on their income from the previous year.

About 800,000 federal government workers have been furloughed or are continuing to work without pay during the shutdown. In recent days, Trump voiced little concern about any inconvenience they may have in meeting their household bills, saying that “most of the workers not getting paid are Democrats.”

On Sunday, he said, “I can relate,” but added, “I’m sure people will make adjustments.” In past shutdowns, furloughed government workers have been paid retroactively when government funding has resumed and most officials in Washington assume the same will happen this time as well.

Trump officials made the rounds of Sunday news talk shows to support his position on border wall funding and refusal to reopen the shuttered government agencies that are unrelated to the wall while continuing to debate a budget for the Department of Homeland Security, which controls border operations, for another month.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told Fox News that Democrats are “just unwilling to let this president win” on the wall dispute. She said that “at some point, we have to say ‘enough is enough,'” to extend the shutdown in order to secure wall funding.

“This president is prepared to do what is necessary to protect our borders,” she said.

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he believes Democrats “think they’re winning the PR battle and they’re willing to drag this out because they think it hurts the president.”

Democrats have vowed they will not give Trump taxpayer money for the wall, especially since he said repeatedly during his 2016 campaign that Mexico would pay for it, which Mexican officials have often said they will not do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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