Donald Trump had been scheduled to fly to Palm Beach on Friday to begin a two-week Christmas vacation at Mar-a-Lago, but those plans are in doubt as Washington hurtles toward a partial government shutdown. Trump’s renewed veto threat capped a chaotic three-day period in which the president briefly gave up on the wall, enraging his base, and then walked back his walk-back in a head-spinning capitulation.
Trump started the crisis on December 11 when he declared, “I am proud to shut down the government for border security” during a televised meeting with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. The remark thrilled his base, but ignored the facts on the ground: Trump’s shutdown threat, at a time when he’s weakened by a slumping stock market and Robert Mueller’s accelerating investigation, did not give him enough leverage to convert votes in Congress for the wall.
On Tuesday, the White House announced that Trump would sign a short-term funding bill that kept the government open through February. On Wednesday, conservative political commentator Ann Coulter told the Daily Caller that Trump was “a joke presidency who scammed the American people, amused the populists for a while, but he’ll have no legacy whatsoever.” A former West Wing official said: “You can’t keep saying we’re going to build the wall, and Mexico is going to pay for it, but then not do it.”
As his supporters turned on him, Trump took a self-pitying attitude. Trump told a friend that the only person in the White House who gets good press is his son-in-law Jared Kushner. In an apparent bid to change the narrative, Trump announced he was withdrawing the 2,000 United States troops in Syria, but that only compounded the crisis by spurring Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to resign.