Anecdotes from within the White House reveal that President Donald Trump got into intense arguments over his border wall demand with top Republicans — and his own aides.
The Washington Post reported that Trump’s internal wall negotiations have been a year in the making.
“President Trump knew that lawmakers were unlikely to ever give him the billions of dollars he wanted to build a wall on the southern border, so in early 2018, he gave aides a directive: Find a way to do it without Congress,” the report recounted.
During a March meeting in the White House residence, the Post reported, Trump exploded upon learning that his aides “had secured only $1.6 billion for border fencing in an omnibus spending bill.”
Two people with information about the conversation said the president “fumed” to then-House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) about the funding, threatening not to sign it because it was far short of the more than $5 billion he’d called for.
“We gave you what you wanted!” Ryan reportedly rebutted.
Trump, who was “swearing profusely,” insisted that the House Speaker’s assertion wasn’t true before asking who’d said that. He then learned that his own aides had negotiated the deal, the report noted.
The exchange happened around the same time that White House aides released a statement saying Trump wouldn’t sign the spending bill — another misstep that sent him into a “rage” and led him to declare that his aides didn’t represent his wishes.
“He was eventually convinced by his equally angry chief of staff, John F. Kelly, to sign the measure — although he remained furious with Ryan and his own team,” the report noted, adding that soon after the episode, Trump decided he’d try to get the wall without Congress.