Government shutdown: Pelosi says Trump prefers 'soap opera' over serious negotiations

Michael Collins and John Fritze and David Jackson
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., center, speaks about her oath of office as she stands next to Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y., left, and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., right, following their meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019.

WASHINGTON – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused President Donald Trump on Thursday of preferring a “soap opera” instead of serious discussions about a border wall funding and ending a partial government shutdown.

“I don’t even know if the president wants the wall,” she said. “I think he just wants the debate on the wall.”

The California Democrat told reporters that she believes a Wednesday negotiating session between the White House and congressional leaders that ended abruptly with Trump storming out of the room was nothing more than “a set-up.”

“Not only was the president unpresidential in his behavior – I think the meeting was set up so he could walk out,” she said.

Democrats are willing to negotiate to end the shutdown, but “we don’t want to be a backdrop for the president to stomp the table and get up and walk out,” she said. “I think he thought we would stay there when he left. He got up, and we got up.”

With the government shutdown – now the second longest in U.S. history – in its 20th day, Trump headed to Texas on Thursday in an effort to promote his long-promised wall and again threatened to declare a national emergency if Democrats don't agree to his demand for more wall funding.

“If this doesn’t work out, I’ll probably will do it, maybe definitely,” Trump said. “We have plenty of funds if there’s a national emergency.”

Trump's trip to McAllen, Texas, takes place a day after Trump stormed out of a meeting with Democratic leaders who were negotiating an end to a partial government shutdown that has left some 800,000 federal workers without pay.

White House officials hope the trip will draw attention to what Trump has described as a "crisis" on the southwest border that he says can be fixed by spending an additional $5.7 billion to build 234 miles of "new physical barrier" along the border.

Pelosi also said the Democrats will wait and see if Trump does in fact declare a national emergency, though she added that some Republicans would likely object to that move.

“I think he's going to have to answer to his own party on usurping that much power,” she said.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Government shutdown: Pelosi says Trump prefers 'soap opera' over serious negotiations