Heated arguments in the Oval Office are nothing new, but it’s rare for those disputes to be televised to the world.
That’s exactly what happened at the White House on Tuesday, where Republican President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence sat down with Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and the likely next Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco.
The discussion largely centered on Trump’s demand for billions of dollars to pay for the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border — a request Schumer and Pelosi flatly rejected. In response, Trump promised to shut down the federal government if his demand wasn’t met.
“I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck,” Trump said. “Because the people of this country don’t want criminals and people that have lots of problems and drugs pouring into this country. So I will take the mantel, I will be the one to shut it down. I won’t blame you for it.”
Trump’s willingness to take credit for a government shutdown, which historically have been very unpopular, was noticed by several politicians, journalists and pundits.
Conservative pollster Frank Luntz mused on Twitter that it’s “going to be really hard to blame the shutdown on Democrats now...”, while outgoing Republican Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake was quoted by Wall Street Journal reporter Kristina L. Peterson as saying “That’s out the window now.”
Pelosi took to Twitter to label a potential government closure as a #TrumpShutdown.
After leaving the White House for the Capitol, Pelosi later said that Trump’s fixation on a border wall is “like a manhood thing for him,” according to the Washington Post.
Pelosi drew praise from some for how she handled the tempestuous exchange with the president. At one point, Pelosi told Trump, “Please don’t characterize the strength that I bring to this meeting.”
California state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, tweeted Pelosi would take Trump “to the woodshed,” while Lily Adams, communications director for Democratic California Sen. Kamala Harris, tweeted that she would get Pelosi’s words tattooed on her arm.
Others — such as incoming Rep. Mike Levin, D-Vista, and Scott Lay, who produces the “The Nooner” political newsletter — said that Pelosi’s demeanor showed why she deserves to be the next Speaker of the House.
But for all that was said between Trump, Schumer and Pelosi during Tuesday’s meeting, it was what wasn’t said that caught the attention of many. Pence’s silence during the meeting did not go unnoticed.
Other Californian politicians took to Twitter to condemn a government shutdown as inflicting unnecessary pain on the American people, including Harris, former Democratic congressional candidate Dave Min and Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Redlands.