Three confidantes of President Donald Trump, including his departing chief of staff, are indicating that the president's signature campaign pledge to build a wall along the US-Mexico border would not be fulfilled as advertised. Trump sparked fervent chants of "Build that wall!" at rallies before and after his election and more recently cited a lack of funding for a border wall as the reason for partially shutting down the government. At times the president has also waved off the idea that the wall could be any kind of barrier. However, White House chief of staff John Kelly told the Los Angeles Times in an interview published Sunday that Trump abandoned the notion of "a solid concrete wall early on in the administration."
"There may be a wall in some places, there may be steel slats, there may be technological enhancements," Conway told "Fox News Sunday." Graham said Trump was "open-minded" about a broader immigration agreement, saying the budget impasse presented an opportunity to address issues beyond the border wall. But a previous attempt to reach a compromise that addressed the status of "Dreamers" young immigrants brought to the US as children broke down last year as a result of escalating White House demands. Graham proposed to help two groups of immigrants get approval to continue living in the US: about 700,000 young "Dreamers" brought into the US illegally as children and about 400,000 people receiving temporary protected status because they are from countries struggling with natural disasters or armed conflicts.
The partial government shutdown began December 22 after Trump bowed to conservative demands that he fight to make good on his vow and secure funding for the wall before Republicans lose control of the House on Wednesday. Democrats have remained committed to blocking the president's priority, and with neither side engaging in substantive negotiation, the effect of the partial shutdown was set to spread and to extend into the new year. In August 2015 during his presidential campaign, Trump made his expectations for the border explicitly clear, as he parried criticism from rival Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor. Aside from what constitutes a wall, neither side appeared ready to budge off its negotiating position. The two sides have had little direct contact during the stalemate, and Trump did not ask Republicans, who hold a monopoly on power in Washington until Thursday, to keep Congress in session.
Talks have been at a stalemate for more than a week, after Democrats said the White House offered to accept USD 2.5 billion for border security. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer told Vice President Mike Pence that it wasn't acceptable, nor was it guaranteed that Trump, under intense pressure from his conservative base to fulfill his signature campaign promise, would settle for that amount. Conway claimed Sunday that "the president has already compromised" by dropping his request for the wall from USD 25 billion, and she called on Democrats to return to the negotiating table. Democrats maintain that they have already presented the White House with three options to end the shutdown, none of which fund the wall, and insist that it's Trump's move.
"At this point, it's clear the White House doesn't know what they want when it comes to border security," said Justin Goodman, Schumer's spokesman. "While one White House official says they're willing to compromise, another says the president is holding firm at no less than USD 5 billion for the wall. Meanwhile, the president tweets blaming everyone but himself for a shutdown he called for more than 25 times." After cancelling a vacation to his private Florida club, Trump spent the weekend at the White House. He has remained out of the public eye since returning early Thursday from a 29-hour trip to visit US troops in Iraq, instead taking to Twitter to attack Democrats. He also moved to defend himself from criticism that he couldn't deliver on the wall while the GOP controlled both the House and Senate.