(CNN)President Donald Trump told congressional leaders during a meeting Friday to try to negotiate terms to re-open the government and that he preferred the word “strike” in describing the ongoing government shutdown, a person familiar with the meeting and a Democratic aide told CNN.
Trump told lawmakers he prefers word ‘strike’ to government shutdown, sources say
Trump also kicked off the meeting with a profanity laden opening salvo lasting more than 15 minutes in which he made it clear that he had no plans to move on from his demand for $5.6 billion to build a border wall, according to a person familiar with the meeting.
Trump also addressed the issue of impeachment, directing his remarks at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, according to two people familiar with what happened inside the room. Pelosi, in response, told him the meeting was supposed to be about re-opening the government, not impeachment, the people said.
The Wall Street Journal earlier reported on Trump’s preference for calling the shutdown a “strike.”
The White House did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.
The shutdown stretched into its 13th day Friday, with no signs of either side relenting on their stance over Trump’s request for additional funding for a border wall, even after the meeting.
According to two people familiar with what happened inside the room, Trump told the leaders his hard number was $5.6 billion for border wall funding, and he wasn’t willing to negotiate. That was when he made clear that it didn’t matter how long it would take — months, years, “even to the election,” according to those people.
Trump also “said he’d keep the government closed for a very long period of time — months or even years,” according to Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, who was also at the Friday morning meeting and spoke to reporters in the White House driveway.
“Absolutely I said that,” Trump affirmed from the Rose Garden shortly afterward. “I don’t think it will, but I’m prepared.”
Talks at the staff level will continue Saturday, but even those were clouded with confusion in the wake of the meeting. Trump said during his Rose Garden remarks that a working group had been formed to continue negotiations, led by Vice President Mike Pence. But Democratic officials familiar with the meeting said the idea of a specific “working group” never came up during the meeting, only that Pence had suggested staff discussions. In the hours immediately following Trump’s remarks, the make up of who would meet this weekend — and what the group would represent — appeared to be a point of confusion for both sides.
Invitations were eventually sent for leadership staff from both parties to meet at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which sits next to the White House and where Pence has an office. The meeting, which Pence is expected to attend and lead, will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday.