Trump attempts to shift blame for shutdown on to Democrats

US president says most federal workers not getting paid are Democrats, with no evidence

A police officer stands near the US Capitol during a government shutdown. Photograph: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

A police officer stands near the US Capitol during a government shutdown. Photograph: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

 

Donald Trump has said that most federal employees who are not receiving pay cheques because of the US government shutdown are Democrats, after characterising them as supporters of the Mexican border wall and partial government shutdown only days ago.

“Do the Dems realize that most of the people not getting paid are Democrats?” Mr Trump tweeted on Thursday morning, prompting outrage from some congressional rivals.

Mr Trump provided no evidence to support the claim, but he has been trying to blame Democrats for the partial government shutdown – now in its sixth day – that hinges on his demand for $5 billion (€4.4 billion) to build a wall at the US-Mexico border.

On Tuesday he told reporters in the Oval Office that furloughed federal workers were sympathetic to the shutdown because they supported the wall. “Many of those workers have said to me, communicated, ‘stay out until you get the funding for the wall’. These federal workers want the wall,” Mr Trump said at the time.

Virginia senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate’s intelligence committee, called Mr Trump’s tweet “outrageous”, adding on Twitter on Thursday that “federal employees don’t go to work wearing red or blue jerseys”.

Mr Trump promised during his presidential campaign that a wall would be built along the border and Mexico would pay for it. Now he is asking Congress for the money. Democratic leaders have proposed $1.3 billion for border security.

In his Twitter post on Thursday, sent after he returned to Washington from a brief visit to Iraq, Mr Trump wrote: “Have the Democrats finally realised that we desperately need Border Security and a Wall on the Southern Border.”

No resolution

There’s little indication of any imminent agreement to resolve the stand-off as the Christmas holiday in the US passed. The new Congress is set to convene next week. Mr Trump said during his Iraq visit that the shutdown would last as long as it took to get the funding he wanted for the wall and additional border security measures. The president declined to say what level of funding he would accept.

Mr Trump told Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, the top Democrats in the House and Senate, at a White House meeting December 11th that he would be “proud to shut down the government for border security”. But a week later Trump’s aides signalled the White House was backing down, and the Senate passed a compromise government funding bill – without the wall money – by a unanimous voice vote.

That launched a torrent of criticism from conservative media figures including Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, who accused the president of betraying his supporters. Conservatives in the House piled on as well, prompting Mr Trump to dig in on wall funding. – Bloomberg