After the contentious meeting between President Trump and Democrat leaders on Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence fired back when he was asked a series of questions from reporters eager to know whether the president had lost his temper, since Trump had walked out of the meeting.
Asked how it helped that the president walked out of the room, Pence responded:
I think that the president made his position very clear today, that there will be no deal without a wall. There will be no deal without the priorities the president has put on the table. But if you could look at the proposal that the president directed us to offer this weekend after spending two days with senior staff, two meeting with senior leadership, it reflects Democrat priorities as well. Frankly, we continue to hear about the idea that Congress, and I know there’ll be votes tomorrow, that the house will take up bills to open portions of the government. And the president literally called the question; he said, “If I opened up the government quickly, would you agree to border security and a wall?”
The Speaker of the House said, “No.” And at that point I think the president thought there was no longer any reason to be talking at this meeting, but as we said afterwards, and we’ve had conversations with the leaders before they left, is, we hope they will come back to the table. I’d say to every American looking on who shares our frustration, call your Congressman. Call your senator. If you think the Democrats should be negotiating in good faith to resolve this partial government shutdown, and to address the humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border, then you ought to call your Congressman, call your senator, tell them to come back to the table, and I will tell you the door here at the White House is wide open; we’re ready to sit down with these leaders and with Democratic leaders and resolve this issue.
Pence was asked about a rumor that President Trump had slammed his hand down at the meeting. He shook his head, answering, “Well, the president walked into the room, passed out candy. It’s true. I don’t recall him ever raising his voice or slamming his hand.” He continued:
But this is a president who feels very strongly about his commitment to see to the security of the American people. He brought the whole issue of illegal immigration to the center of the national debate when he sought this office, and we actually saw a decline in illegal immigration at our southern border in our first year in office. But the reality is because of the lack of reforms, because of the lack of a wall, because of the loopholes in our laws today, we are now seeing a precipitous rise in families, in unaccompanied children being driven by human traffickers and cartels, individuals who are exploiting vulnerable families and encouraging them to make the long and dangerous journey up the peninsula, and you could hear the president say, this is a crisis of heart and soul, he feels this passionately; he left the room today because Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that even if he gave her what she wanted, she would never agree to the border security priorities that we have on the table and that was unacceptable.
Pence later said, “The president’s belief, and I know that it’s the belief of these Republican leaders as well, is that Congress should just do their job. Look, politics is the art of the possible. I served in the Congress for 12 years. I remember times when there were strong feelings and emotions but eventually leaders came together, sat down with presidents, oftentimes in opposite political parties, they heard each others’ priorities, they negotiated an agreement and they moved forward. That’s what the American people expect us to do today, but when the Speaker of the House comes to the table with the leader of the Democrats in the Senate, after we’ve made days of good faith negotiations, with an offer on the table, and their only answer is they will not negotiate until we reopen the government. And when the president says, ‘Well, if I gave you exactly what you are asking for, would you agree to border security and a wall?’ And they say ‘No,’ I think the American people deserve better.”