President Trump will have you know that he sacrificed his Christmas plans to work in the White House and help the country cope with the partial government shutdown he demanded.
But in comments to reporters on Tuesday morning, he seemed to be neither in the holiday spirit nor in the mood to find a solution to the ongoing budget crisis.
“I wasn't able to be with my family [for the holiday]. I thought it would be wrong for me to be with my family in Florida and I just didn’t want to go down and be there when other people are hurting,” he told reporters in the Oval Office.
“It’s a disgrace what’s happening in our country. But other than that, I wish everybody a very merry Christmas,” he added.
The unenthusiastic Christmas wishes wrapped up a lengthy tirade in which Trump attacked Democrats, claimed federal workers furloughed during the government shutdown have urged him to hold out for border wall funding, and insisted hordes of migrants have been waltzing straight into San Diego and trampling “right over people’s lawns.”
They also came a day after the president quite possibly crushed a 7-year-old child’s dreams by asking her if she still believed in Santa Claus while taking calls for the North American Aerospace Defense Command's Santa Tracker. Prior to that, he briefly rattled already-sinking markets by attacking the Federal Reserve as the U.S. economy’s “only problem,” even after other officials sought to calm investors after reports Trump might fire Fed chairman Jerome Powell.
Despite blaming Democrats on Tuesday for allowing “massive amounts of crime” by blocking the wall’s construction, the president boasted of “great progress” on the wall and insisted that “a lot of new wall” has already been built. He also reiterated a claim made Monday that he’d approved a new project for 115 miles worth of border wall, though offered no specifics. The White House has also not yet commented on the new development.
In particular, he said, San Diego is already “largely built” and “will be completed very shortly.”
“They came to us, the people, and they were asking for border protection. People were walking through Mexico right into San Diego. Right over people's front lawns. By the hundreds and by the thousands, and they came to us” asking for a wall, he said.
While Trump has repeatedly publicly claimed that major sections of his promised border wall have already been built, it wasn’t immediately clear which projects he was referring to on Tuesday. Fact-checkers at The Washington Post have previously noted that work in San Diego has been limited to renovations on an already standing fence, not the construction of a whole new wall.
Even as the president apparently sought to portray the border wall as a major success, thousands of federal workers have been forced to celebrate the holidays on furlough or by working without pay because of a government shutdown prompted by his unsuccessful demands for border wall funding.
But, without citing any evidence, Trump is now claiming “many” of those same workers have praised his efforts to secure funding for the wall by holding the government hostage.
"Many of those workers have said to me and communicated, stay out until you get the funding for the wall. These federal workers want the wall,” he said.
“The only one that doesn't want the wall are the Democrats, because they don't mind open borders, but open borders mean massive amounts of crime," he said. “I can't tell you when the government is going to be open. I can tell you it's not going to be open until we have a wall, a fence, whatever they would like to call it.”
Trump went on to discuss the Russia investigation, despite not being asked about the Russia investigation. The president repeated his “no collusion” mantra, alleging “a lot of collusion by the Democrats” with “very dishonest people.”