The Slatest

Trump Says Government Won’t Reopen Until Border Wall Is Funded

President Donald Trump makes a video call to service members from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard stationed worldwide in the Oval Office at the White House on December 25, 2018.
President Donald Trump makes a video call to service members from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard stationed worldwide in the Oval Office at the White House on December 25, 2018.
Pool/Getty Images

President Donald Trump had an uplifting message of hope for Americans on Christmas Day, making it clear he is not willing to compromise in order to get the government fully working again. “I can’t tell you when the government is going to be open. I can tell you it’s not going to be open until we have a wall, a fence, whatever they would like to call it,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office after he made a traditional Christmas Day phone call with service members. Trump once again repeated what has become a favorite talking point of his, implying Democrats oppose the wall because of how that word sounds. “I’ll call it whatever they want, but it’s all the same thing,” he said.

Trump insisted the wall was needed to stop drugs from flowing into the country and end human trafficking. “We can’t do it without a barrier. We can’t do it without a wall,” he said. “The only way you’re going to do it is to have a physical barrier, meaning a wall. And if you don’t have that then we’re just not opening” the government. Trump also repeated a claim made on Christmas Eve that he had approved “a 115-mile-long contract for another large section of the Wall in Texas.” Neither the White House nor the Department of Homeland Security expanded on what exactly the president was talking about, but the president repeated the claim Tuesday. “It’s going to be built, hopefully rapidly,” he said. “I’m going there at the end of January for the start of construction. That’s a big stretch.”

Trump claims federal workers affected by the shutdown agree with him that he should keep the government closed until Democrats agree to fund the wall. “Many of those workers have said to me and communicated, stay out until you get the funding for the wall,” Trump said. “These federal workers want the wall. The only one that doesn’t want the wall are the Democrats, because they don’t mind open borders, but open borders mean massive amounts of crime.”

At one point in his chat with reporters, Trump strangely veered into talking about fired FBI Director James Comey as a way of illustrating his talking point describing Democrats as hypocrites. “Everybody hated Comey, they thought he did a horrible job. The Democrats hated him. They were calling for his resignation. They were calling for his firing,” Trump said. “Once I fired him, everybody said, ‘Oh, why did you fire him, why did you fire him?’ ”