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Trump threatens shutdown

In a wild Oval Office confrontation, President Donald Trump heatedly threatened to shut down the U.S. government Tuesday as he and Democratic leaders bickered over funding for his promised border wall and offered a grim preview of life in Washington the next two years under divided government.

Trump and House and Senate Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer squabbled for more than 15 minutes in the stunning, televised encounter. Each of them, especially Trump, interrupted the others to question facts, quibble over election results and lob insults.

Trump questioned Pelosi's ability to count votes in her own House. She questioned his manhood — after she left the building.

The public clash marked Trump's first meeting with the newly empowered Democrats since their midterm victories that put them in control of the House, laying bare the tensions on both sides and suggesting how divided government might work — or not — as the 2020 presidential election nears.

Neither the public nor the private face-to-face portion of the meeting appeared to resolve the wall-funding dispute with a partial shutdown looming on Dec. 21. However, Pelosi said Trump called her later in the afternoon and told her the White House was looking at options she and Schumer had laid out.

In the public debate, Trump sounded more determined than ever to allow a partial government shutdown unless he gets the billions he wants for his long-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

"I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down," he declared.

Pelosi later crowed that she and Schumer had goaded the president to "fully own that the shutdown was his." She told Democratic lawmakers back at the Capitol, according to an aide who was in the room, that the wall was "like a manhood thing for him ... as if manhood could ever be associated with him. This wall thing."

The aide was not authorized to speak publicly and commented only on condition of anonymity.

While Trump has suggested he may be willing to trade with Democrats and has publicly praised Pelosi, he was focused Tuesday on reinforcing his hardline immigration promises, repeatedly stressing border security and the wall as a critical part. Democrats were in no mood to sympathize, emphasizing their newfound political strength.

"Elections have consequences, Mr. President," said Schumer.

Trump later called it a "friendly meeting," saying "I've actually liked them for a long period of time and I respect them both. And we made a lot of progress." The Democrats said they had given Trump two options to keep government open and the responsibility lay with him and Republicans who control Congress.

The wall remains the main sticking point in talks. Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan acknowledged Tuesday that the GOP-led House has yet to pass legislation that includes the $5 billion in border wall funds that Trump has been requesting. Ryan likely lacks sufficient votes from Republicans who will lose their majority at the end of the month.

Trump is seeking far more for his long-stalled border wall than the $1.6 billion the Senate has agreed to for border security, including physical barriers and technology along the U.S. southern border.

Should the two sides not make a deal by Dec. 21, about three-quarters of the government would continue to have enough money to operate. But departments affected absent a deal include Homeland Security, Transportation, Agriculture, State and Justice, as well as national parks.

Both sides came into the negotiating session primed for battle. After a few niceties, Trump dug into Democrats on the border wall, prompting a stern rebuke from Schumer that the issue at hand was "called funding the government." Trump soon started scrapping with Pelosi, when she said there should not be a "Trump shutdown."

"Did you say Trump?" the president said, as the two argued over whether Trump had enough Republican votes in the House to support his border wall plan.

"The fact is that you do not have the votes in the House," Pelosi declared.

Trump shot back: "Nancy, I do."

Also in a fighting mood, Schumer accused Trump of threatening a shutdown "because you can't get your way."

Trump heckled Schumer over a previous shutdown, saying "the last time you shut it down you got killed" politically.

Pelosi and Schumer both repeatedly asked to make the conversation private, without success, as Trump argued that the public meeting was a good thing: "It's called transparency."



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