Donald Trump is set to make a “major announcement” on the government shutdown and the US-Mexico border on Saturday afternoon as the standstill over funding for his proposed wall continues into its fifth week.
The White House has not provided any details about what exactly the president will reveal at 3pm EST today (8pm UK time), but he is not expected to sign the national emergency declaration he has been threatening to use for several weeks.
Mr Trump has been in a standoff with Democrats in Congress for the past 29 days after he refused to sign a government funding bill without $5.7 billion for his border wall.
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The New York Times. A House aide said the party leadership is now proposing hundreds of millions of dollars for new immigration judges and improvements to the infrastructure at ports of entry from Mexico. But there’s no indication Democrats are willing to budge on the wall – or any other physical barrier.
Shutdown announcement aside, Trump is heading to the Dover Air Force Base today to pay tribute to four Americans killed in a suicide bomb attack in Syria this week. The Delaware trip hadn’t been on the president’s public schedule for Saturday, but he tweeted the news before he left the White House.
A former White House advisor has suggested Trump “doesn’t care” about losing support over the shutdown because he doesn’t really want to spend another four years in the Oval Office. Pippa Malmgren, George W Bush’s special assistant for economic policy, thinks the chance of him running for re-election in 2020 is “diminishing every day”. Here’s Chris Baynes with more:
So what might the president have to say on Saturday afternoon? According to various media reports, Trump is not getting ready to declare a national emergency today, having previously threatened to do so.
Airport officials are concerned the shutdown could have a big impact on travel plans for this year’s Super Bowl in Atlanta, Georgia on 3 February. The city’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport has been plagued with long security lines since many unpaid screening employees have been calling in sick.
As well as promising an announcement at 3pm today, Trump released a video statement on Friday night claiming there was a “national security crisis” happening on the southern border. “Take the politics out of it – let’s get to work and let’s make a deal.” he said. “A lot of the Democrats they agree with me, they told me so, but they’re afraid to say it.”
Here’s more on that remarkable statement by Robert Mueller disputing the Trump-Cohen report:
The White House has denied the bombshell report claiming Trump ordered his former lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about plans to build a Trump Tower in Russia. And since Robert Mueller issued a rare statement late on Friday disputing the basis of the BuzzFeed News story, the president has been furiously tweeting and re-tweeting various claims about “fake news”. Clearly encouraged by Mueller’s statement, Trump said: “Fake News is truly the ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!”
Hello and welcome to our coverage of the US government shutdown as it enters its 29th day – and fifth week – on Saturday. It’s almost a full month since the president refused to sign a government funding bill without $5.7 billion for his border wall. An estimated 460,000 employees are still working without pay, and another 340,000 workers have been placed on leave.
Could the end now be in sight? Trump has promised us a “major announcement” on the dispute today. There are reports he is ready to offer Democrats a deal, but he has previously threatened to declare a national emergency to resolve the standoff.
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The president is believed to be ready to offer the Democrats a deal to end the partial shutdown, with administrational officials telling the media he would be presenting some form of proposal.
There is no indication, however, that the offer is based on any breakthrough with the Democratic leadership.
In the latest instance of political brinkmanship over the shutdown, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi cancelled her plans to travel by commercial plane to visit US troops in Afghanistan, saying the president had caused a security risk by talking about the trip.
Around 800,000 federal employees are on leave or working without pay since the shutdown began. Nine of the 15 cabinet-level departments have not been funded in almost a month.
The long shutdown may be hitting home for the president. Just 21 of the roughly 80 people who tend to his needs at the White House – from butlers to electricians to chefs – are reporting to work. The rest have been placed on leave.