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White House meeting concludes with ‘2 completely different stories,’ no progress

President Trump called a Wednesday meeting with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer a “total waste of time.” While Democrats and Republicans differ on what took place during the meeting, it's clear that no resolution to the shutdown is imminent. Lisa Desjardins and Yamiche Alcindor join Judy Woodruff to discuss the latest dynamics in the ongoing stalemate.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    A wipeout at the White House. The latest meeting between President Trump and congressional leaders has ended abruptly, in a new round of recriminations.

    That leaves much of the United States government still shut down over the issue of a border wall.

    Congressional correspondent Lisa Desjardins reports.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    It was the shortest shutdown meeting yet.

  • Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.:

    Federal workers will not be receiving their paychecks.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    This afternoon, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer were in the White House for about 30 minutes, when Schumer said the president ended their meeting, refusing to reopen government.

  • Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.:

    Well, unfortunately, the president just got up and walked out. He asked Speaker Pelosi, "Will you agree to my wall?"

    She said no. And he just got up and said, "Then we have nothing to discuss," and he just walked out.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    As Democrats spoke, President Trump tweeted confirmation that he ended today's talks.

  • Mike Pence:

    We just ended a very short meeting in the Situation Room.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Republicans, led by Vice President Pence, pointed to Democrats as the problem, saying Democrats made it clear they will not move closer to the president's position on the wall.

  • Mike Pence:

    Today, in this brief meeting, we heard once again that Democratic leaders are unwilling to even negotiate to resolve this partial government shutdown or address the crisis at our southern border.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    This was the capstone to a day where the two sides moved farther apart.

  • Man:

    top playing chicken with our lives.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Democrats started the morning flanked by furloughed federal workers.

  • Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.:

    The first order of business, open up the government. You heard these people. Right?

  • Man:

    Yes.

  • Woman:

    Exactly.

  • Man:

    Open it up.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Among them, Holly Salamido, who had worked at Housing and Urban development and now heads a local union chapter. She said it's not just workers, but those in federal housing who are at risk.

  • Holly Salamido:

    If there's a problem, there's no one at HUD to call. In some cases, people are facing eviction.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    This as President Trump spent the day underscoring his Oval Office address last night about border security and his demand for a southern border barrier. At a bill signing, he said wall.

  • Donald Trump:

    We can all play games, but a wall is a necessity. All of the other things, the sensors and the drones, it's all wonderful to have, and it works well, but only if you have the wall. If you don't have the wall, it doesn't matter.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    The president did take time to address divisions in his own party. The president and vice president lunched with Republican senators. Sources say the president privately called for unity. Publicly, he was confident and praised GOP Leader Mitch McConnell.

  • Donald Trump:

    I would say we have a very, very united party. Mitch has been fantastic. Everybody in that room was fantastic.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Still, several Republican senators are signaling otherwise. Alaska's Lisa Murkowski, Colorado's Cory Gardner, and Maine's Susan Collins have signaled they are ready to act on bills passed by House Democrats to reopen most government. That legislation funds most agencies for the rest of the year, and funds DHS for one month, giving time for more border security talks.

    But Republican Leader Mitch McConnell says no deal will get a vote until the president and all sides support it.

  • Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.:

    We're all behind the president. We think the border security issue is extremely important to the country.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Another sign that leaders are moving farther from any middle ground, today, Vice President Pence seemed to reach out to the conservative base, speaking to talk radio host Rush Limbaugh with uncompromising tone.

  • Mike Pence:

    President Trump and I and our entire team is determined to stand firm until the Democrats in Congress come to the table and work with us to secure the border, build a wall, end this humanitarian crisis, and do what's right for the American people.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Tomorrow, leaders again go in different directions. House Democrats plan to pass separate bills, reopening most agencies, and the president plans to visit the Texas border to reinforce his case for a wall.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And Lisa joins me now from Capitol Hill, along with Yamiche Alcindor from the White House.

    Yamiche, that was quite a meeting, by all accounts. Tell us, what is the president saying about it? And, I guess, afterwards, the vice president came out with other Republicans and talked to you and other reporters.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, negotiations essentially spun out of control and hit a roadblock.

    This was quite a scene on the White House lawn today. The Democrats were saying that the president threw a temper tantrum, and Republicans are saying that the Democrats were not telling the truth. Now, the president, a few minutes after this meeting that was supposed to be longer, but ended about 30 minutes, tweeted.

    And I want to read to you what he tweeted. He tweeted: "Just left a meeting with Chuck and Nancy, a total waste of time. I asked, what is going to happen in 30 days if I quickly open things up? Are you going to approve border security, which includes a wall or steel barrier? Nancy said no. I said bye-bye. Nothing else works."

    Now, Senator Schumer said that the president then slammed his hands on the table while he was in the meeting.

    And I then talked to Vice President Pence about that and said, what was the mood in that meeting and are we closer to a national emergency?

    Vice President Pence told me that the president — quote — "The president walked into the room and passed out candy. I don't recall him ever raising his voice or slamming his hands."

    So what we have is two completely different stories about how this meeting went. What is clear, though, is that things are going to be prolonged. This shutdown is not ending anytime soon. And Democrats and Republicans are really going back to their corners.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, Lisa, to you now.

    What are Republican — what are people saying on the Hill about this, about what — the breakdown of these talks yet again, and how long do they think this can go on?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Well, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi returned to the Hill, and she told reporters that the president was being petulant, in her words. And she repeated some of what she said at the White House.

    I spoke to Republican House members on their way to a vote. And it was fascinating, Judy. Several of them just shrugged. One of them literally shrugged and said, that's how things are right now. It's broken down to this point.

    However, I will also say, from those Republican House members, they seem to be coalescing more around the president than I have seen before. The president seems to have convinced at least House Republicans that he is very serious about pushing for his wall. In the words of these House Republicans, they now think Democrats need to bring an offer to the table.

    That's something I didn't hear from these House members last week, and they're saying it more and more. However, Democrats are saying something else, Judy. They're saying the president is not someone who can be negotiated with right now, and that he is being unreasonable and unruly.

    And here's the interesting part, Judy. Democrats are saying they think the pressure needs to be on Mitch McConnell, that they think Senate Republicans are the place where there could be a breakthrough in these negotiations, and they want to add pressure on those Senate Republicans.

    We will see if that happens.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Pointing fingers in the opposite direction, both sides are.

    Yamiche, we know that there are polls showing that a bare majority, but a majority of Americans blame the president for the shutdown. What do we know about how he's trying to change public opinion?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, the president is changing public — or trying to change public opinion by meeting with lawmakers in person, by going on TV and sending other representatives for the White House on TV, and by going on conservative talk radio.

    The president today held a meeting with congressional Senate Republicans. And in that meeting, he repeatedly said, we need to have unity, we need to be strong, this is the probably the best time we're going to have to get funding for the wall, so stick with me.

    The other thing that's important is that Vice President Pence went on Rush Limbaugh's conservative radio show today. Now, Vice President Pence just on Monday said that he hates the word base and that he — this is not about politics.

    But then, today, he went on Rush Limbaugh's show and said, thank you for all that you're doing for us and thank you for building this movement.

    Add to that the fact that the president is going to be heading to the border tomorrow. He's going to be making his case, talking to people in Texas, talking to them about what he sees as a crisis on the border.

    So what we're seeing is a White House that's using its messaging power both all over as much as they possibly can to make the case that this is a crisis and that Democrats are in the wrong here.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, Lisa, very quickly, political dynamics on the Hill? How do these members of Congress seem? It appears they're getting farther apart.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    There is a real split here, Judy. And, again, it's a little bit House and Senate.

    I spoke to a very plugged-in House Republican. And he told me, listen, most House Republicans do not have federal workers in their district. So, he point-blank said, it's not in our interest to end the shutdown.

    I countered and said, yes, but there are some interesting groups like, say, Customs and Border Patrol officers who will not be paid. That's pretty — generally a demographic that Republicans think about a lot. He said, yes, that's true. Once we see law enforcement suffering, that might move the dial for Republicans. But, otherwise, the federal worker argument is not something we care about. We care much more about border security and we think it's a serious threat.

    Democrats, on the other hand, think this is all a very large political mistake for Republicans. They say walking out of a meeting is something that will cost them politically for months, perhaps years.

    We will see.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Another day, apparently no closer and apparently even farther apart, the two sides are.

    Lisa Desjardins, Yamiche Alcindor, thank you both.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Thanks.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And we will look at the effects of the shutdown and where to go from here after the news summary.

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