Incoming acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said Democrats have "shutdown" discussions about the government shutdown and accused them of "walking away from the table" on the Friday broadcast of 'FOX & Friends' on FNC.
Mulvaney said Democrats are choosing Nancy Pelosi's speakership over what is best for the country.
"Well I’ll tell you where we are and then we’ll talk about progress," Mulvaney said of negotiations. "The Democrats offered us $1.3 billion for border security, border barrier. Keep in mind, everybody agrees at this point, some folks use the term, wall, they mean different things. Everyone agrees that what we can and what we should be building on that Southern border is that steel barrier that the President tweeted out. That’s what he wants to build, the Democrats, believe it or not, don’t call that a wall. They know that we have the ability to do that and that would be a functional barrier."
Mulvaney said Trump "came off" his initial $5 billion request for border wall funding to a "slightly" lesser number.
"So, everybody’s ok with design, they offered us $1.3 billion to do that, we countered with $5 billion, they came back at walking away from the table," Mulvaney said. "The Democrats have simply shut down discussions, they did not even counter us. We went back to them, by the way, after their second $1.3 billion and picked a number less than five. So, we actually came off of our $5 billion slightly, they instead of coming up from their 1.3 billion, left town. And I think that speaks a lot about what’s happening in Washington D.C. again."
Mulvaney said "we need" people to start asking why aren't the Democrats negotiating with President Trump. He asked Democrats if it is worth shutting down the government over Nancy Pelosi's speakership.
"What we need people to start to ask is why aren’t the Democrats talking?" Mulvaney asked. "Are they really so afraid that – is Nancy Pelosi’s speakership worth shutting the government down? Is Nancy Pelosi’s speakership worth leaving the border unprotected? That’s the discussion that we wish people would be having because that is exactly what is happening in Washington D.C. Democrats are choosing her speakership, the importance of her taking that officer over what’s best for the country."
Full transcript, via FOX News:
GRIFF JENKINS, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: We want to bring in now the incoming acting White House Chief of Staff and Director of the OMB, Mick Mulvaney. Good morning sir, how are you?
MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF AND DIRECTOR OF OMB: Good morning you all, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year.
JENKINS: Mr. Mulvaney, why did this happen? And what’s going to be done to make sure it never happens again?
MULVANEY: Yes, that is just a heart breaking story but I think in a very, very difficult and painful way it sort of illustrates exactly the very best of our immigration and the very worst and why legal immigration is so, so important and wonderful for this country and illegal immigration is so different. And one of the reasons that the President is still here fighting for border security, there’s too many of those stories that need to stop and border security is one thing we could do to help accomplish that.
RACHEL CAMPOS DUFFY, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: How closely is the President following this story, I know that news is still developing.
MULVANEY: Yes, we actually talked about it with him late last night. The President’s been here, by the way, all weekend, all Christmas. He’s staying in Washington D.C. over New Years, he’s cancelled his plans for Christmas, now’s cancelled his plans for New Years. So, we’re talking on an hourly basis, about not only what’s happening in California but also what’s not happening in Washington D.C. with Senate democrats. The President is very heavily engaged in this on almost a minute by minute basis.
PETE HEGSETH, FOX & FRIENDS HOST: Absolutely and we are following on a minute by minute basis as well. But this conversation about illegal immigration, about the wall is front and center there in Washington, whether the democrats are there or not to cut a deal with you. The President tweeted this just moments ago and we want to get your reaction to it, he said, “we will be forced to close the Southern Border entirely if the Obstructionist Democrats do not gives us the money to finish the Wall and also change the ridiculous immigration laws that our Country is saddled with. Hard to believe there was Congress and President who would approve.” He said he’ll close it all down because of these ridiculous immigration laws. Is he willing to go that far?
MULVANEY: I think he is, I think he’s just trying to draw light to the fact that this is a crazy discussion to be having. All of the – Chuck Schumer voted for border security in 2006, he voted for it again, I think, in 2011. It seems like democrats really like border security when there’s a democrats in office and don’t like it when Donald Trump is in office. And I think what the President is trying to do and rightly so is to shed some light on what’s happening here. In all fairness, I think that having worked with, the Vice President and I met with Leader Schumer last Saturday, the last time we sat down face to face, and my gut was that he was really interested in doing a deal and coming to some sort of compromise but the more we’re hearing this week is that it’s Nancy Pelosi who’s preventing that from happening.
JENKINS: Well, yes, Mick let’s put up this headline from Politico, right now, to show where she is. It say’s, “Dems’ New Year’s resolution: Stiff Trump on the wall and reopen the government.” How is you intend to get any progress with positions like that?
MULVANEY: Well I’ll tell you where we are and then we’ll talk about progress. The democrats offered us $1.3 billion for border security, border barrier. Keep in mind, everybody agrees at this point, some folks use the term, wall, they mean different things. Everyone agrees that what we can and what we should be building on that Southern border is that steel barrier that the President tweeted out. That’s what he wants to build, the democrats, believe it or not, don’t call that a wall. They know that we have the ability to do that and that would be a functional barrier. So, every body’s ok with design, they offered us $1.3 billion to do that, we countered with $5 billion, they came back at walking away from the table. The democrats have simply shut down discussions, they did not even counter us. We went back to them, by the way, after their second $1.3 billion and picked a number less than five. So, we actually came off of our $5 billion slightly, they instead of coming up from their 1.3 billion, left town. And I think that speaks a lot about what’s happening in Washington D.C. again.
CAMPOS DUFFY: Well, is there any negotiation going on behind the scenes right now? Are phone calls being made or any kind of movement at all? Or they just left town and that’s it?
MULVANEY: No, they left town and I think the reason they did is because Nancy Pelosi in fairness, does not have the votes for the speakership yet. She can not be seen by her party as being weak on negotiation with Donald Trump so we fully expect that until she is election speaker and has locked that vote up, we don’t expect to hear from the Democrats again. They told us last night that they were not countering our last offer, our last offer.
HEGSETH: Mr. Director it was $25 billion was possibly on the table, now it’s five, it was 1.3, one of your former colleagues Mark Meadows, who’s been really strong on this issue was on another network yesterday, we want to play what he had to say and get you to respond.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK MEADOWS: Certainly the vast majority of republican members of the conference understand that there may be a compromise between 5.7 billion and 1.6 or wherever the number may be but as we’re looking at it, whether it’s 2.5 or 2.7 it doesn’t matter, Chuck Schumer has said no and the American people see that as a compromise. I see that as a compromise and so certainly if that’s on the table you would find a number of republican members encouraging the President to go ahead and accept that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HEGSETH: Mr. Mulvaney, a lot of Trump supporters feel like five is all ready a compromise, five billion, so to now start to float out there, 2.5, 2.7 wouldn’t that look like a cave on this key issue?
MULVANEY: A couple different things, first of all you mentioned the 25 billion, you can put that one aside, that was smoking mirrors, the democrats say they offered $25 billion but they did so in a way that only Washingtonians could understand. They were going to authorize $25 billion which means that they were actually going to spend zero dollars. So, put that one aside. But what Mark is talking about is something entirely appropriate, if you’re at $5 billion on something and I’m at 1.3 and we’re talking about money maybe there is a place in between there that we can compromise, you can get a little bit of what you want, we can get a little bit of what we want. Keep in mind anything that opens the government is going to require 60 votes in the Senate and that means it must have some democrat support, so that’s why we try to negotiate, not sure why they tried to leave town.
JENKINS: Hold on, the American people wanted a wall, what is the President, what deal then now is President Trump willing to accept that is anything short of that wall?
MULVANEY: No, we’re still building the barrier, that’s why the government is closed because the President is not willing to give up on the Southern barrier. Keep in mind that steel slate fence that he sent the picture of, that is the ideal border barrier. It’s what CBP, it’s what everybody says will actually do the job best, so we are not giving up on that, that’s why the government is closed. But it makes sense to sit down across the table when you’re trying to negotiate with another party and see if there’s some place in the middle between their five and 1.3.
JENKINS: So what deal are you willing to accept?
MULVANEY: I’m not going to tell you guys that, come on now.
CAMPOS DUFFY: But let me ask this, we’re talking about money, five billion, 1.5 billion, 2.7 billion, why aren’t there other things on the table? Daca for example, is that being negotiated?
MULVANEY: That’s a great question and we’ve again gone to the democrats over the course of the last year. Keep in mind, this just didn’t come up in the last couple of weeks. The President has made it very clear since early summer that he wanted $5 billion for the border wall and for border security. So, it doesn’t come as a surprise but we have talked to the democrats about talking about different things about different changes to our immigration laws, keep in mind this is a border security discussion not just a border wall. There’s other things broken with our border security, including the laws that allow folks to stay here. Keep in mind, I think one of the stories that didn’t get nearly enough attention last week was the agreement with Mexico, where by they will be keeping asylum seekers in Mexico. Someone crosses the border illegally, asks for asylum, last week they were able to stay in this country definitely. Now they’re going back to Mexico pending their pros – that’s a huge improvement in our border security. So, things like that are all ready being discussed. So, yes we do, you’re absolutely right, to the talk mostly about the money but there’s other things being discussed at the same time.
HEGSETH: Mr. Director, Nancy Pelosi calls the wall immoral, ineffective and expensive. We know it’s effective, we know it’s -- $5 billion is not expensive in Washington dollars, in tax payer real dollars we know it is. But the morality of it, tell that to the family of Corporal Singh, tell that to the family of Kate Steinle, the moral thing to do is to keep it shut down until you get a wall. Trump supporters are going to expect that, how attune to you are you to the reality that compromise, that makes it look like republicans are caving again, here we go, democrats always. No that is a real thing that has to be factored in right?
MULVANEY: Keep in mind, we’re not compromising on the importance of border security. You’re right, Nancy Pelosi is wrong on all of those things especially the morality, my reaction was the same as yours, which is go ask the family of the folks who have been victims of illegal immigration how moral – how moral this is. But we’re not compromising on the importance of border security, we’re simply trying to come to a deal on the amount of money that we will spend in the next fiscal year. This is part of how government works, it’s what you have to do when the democrats do have those votes in the senate, which they do, again 60 votes required to pass this in the Senate. So, we’re not compromising on the importance of border security, just how much we’re going to spend.
HEGSETH: The President has floated the nuclear option, is that a possibility in the Senate, he tweeted about it a couple week – about a week ago.
MULVANEY: I wish all options were open, again we need folks to talk with us, we need folks to at least discuss with us, I can not – it still strikes me as very unusual that the democrats did not provide a counter offer to our last discussion, they simply left town. Again, the President is here, the President cancelled his plans, where’s Chuck Schumer? Where’s Nancy Pelosi? They’re not even talking right now and we don’t think they will until the new Congress is sworn in.
HUNTMAN: If he’s there, why doesn’t he do an oval office address? We just had this very tragic event, which is really bringing to the forefront what’s at stake, the safety of not just police officers but all Americans. Why isn’t he using all the tools at his disposal?
MULVANEY: Well, I think the President is pretty good at communicating, don’t you? I mean, I’m the OMB director, I’m the incoming acting Chief of Staff, I’m not the person who’s going to tell the President the best way to communicate, he’s pretty good at it. The fact that you brought up three or four of his tweets all ready today, his message is getting out there. What we need people to start to ask is why aren’t the democrats talking? Are they really so afraid that – is Nancy Pelosi’s speakership worth shutting the government down? Is Nancy Pelosi’s speakership worth leaving the border unprotected? That’s the discussion that we wish people would be having because that is exactly what is happening in Washington D.C. Democrats are choosing her speakership, the importance of her taking that officer over what’s best for the country.
JENKINS: All right, incoming acting Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, thank you very much sir for your time.
HEGSETH: Appreciate it.
MULVANEY: Good morning you all.