The 12th day of the government shutdown brought a meeting between President Trump and congressional leaders in which his Homeland Security officials were tasked with making a "plea" for the border wall. The 3pm Wednesday session, which comes one day before Democrats seize control of the House, was held in the White House Situation Room, which the AP reports is typically used when sensitive information is discussed and means TV cameras weren't present. Politico sees the location as possibly adding "some theatrical flourish for Trump as he tries to sell the public on the need for tougher border security." In attendance: from the GOP, Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy, and Steve Scalise; on the Democratic side, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. Details on the meeting itself are, so far, few; but there are plenty of details on the hours leading up to it.
- In advance of the briefing came fighting words from both sides, reports the Washington Post. "It's not often the president gets to hear people tell him when he’s wrong. Democrats intend to do that today," a rep for Schumer said in advance of the meeting, which the Post takes to mean Democrats didn't intend to be "lectured with inaccurate information." Politico adds that Schumer and Pelosi met for 45 minutes prior to the session, and that the two are totally on the same page, indicating that the administration's efforts to get a deal out of Schumer won't work.
- Trump himself tried to make a case for the wall ahead of the briefing in a meeting with Cabinet secretaries and advisers, describing the border as "like a sieve." As for the shutdown blame, that's on Democrats, he said. "We are in a shutdown because Democrats refuse to fund border security."
- In that meeting, the AP reports Trump complained that he had been "lonely" at the White House during the holiday break, having skipped his getaway to Mar-a-Lago in Florida. He claimed his only companions were the "machine gunners," referring to security personnel, and "they don't wave, they don't smile." He also criticized Pelosi for visiting Hawaii.
- Wednesday morning, Trump tweeted, "Mexico is paying for the Wall through the new USMCA Trade Deal. Much of the Wall has already been fully renovated or built. We have done a lot of work. $5.6 Billion Dollars that House has approved is very little in comparison to the benefits of National Security. Quick payback!" The Post explains why that statement isn't accurate.
- After the meeting, Democrats indicated little progress had been made, CNN reports. Schumer said he asked Trump to reopen the government while border differences are being resolved. "Our question to the President and to the Republicans is why don’t you accept what you have already done to open up government?" Pelosi said after the meeting. Trump reportedly asked lawmakers to return to the White House Friday to continue talks.
- On the Republican side, similar comments from McConnell after the meeting: "We had a good discussion on border security issue. I don’t think any particular progress was made today. But we talked about all aspects of it and it was a civil discussion and we are hopeful that somehow in the coming days or weeks we will be able to reach an agreement."
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