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Trump sensitive to criticism about so-far failed border wall promise

President Donald Trump has become increasingly sensitive to criticism that he's backing off his signature pr...

Posted: Dec 20, 2018 5:08 AM
Updated: Dec 20, 2018 5:08 AM

President Donald Trump has become increasingly sensitive to criticism that he's backing off his signature promise to build a wall along the US-Mexico border, three sources familiar with his concern tell CNN, as aides fear the administration's chances for securing funding for it have sunset.

GOP lawmakers and Trump are set to OK a short-term funding measure to avert a year-end government shutdown and Democrats will assume control of the House in 2019, virtually assuring no additional border wall funding.

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Trump's anxiety about fulfilling his top campaign goal comes at the end of months of bitter debate inside the West Wing over how to fund the border wall between those seen as ideologues and those who consider themselves pragmatists.

White House officials were in a meeting discussing border security last August when a sudden outburst from aide Stephen Miller silenced the room. The President's legislative affairs director, Shahira Knight, was in the middle of arguing that instead of pushing for the border fight so close to the midterm elections, the White House should hold off until after November when they would be in stronger position to fight over funding.

Miller, the immigration hardliner at the table, cut her off mid-sentence. According to two people in the room, he shot back with a list of reasons why the administration would almost certainly be in a weaker position after the elections because Republicans were guaranteed to lose multiple seats and possibly the entire House, making building the wall all but impossible.

Knight, a former aide to ex-White House economic adviser Gary Cohn with an in-depth policy knowledge, went quiet. An official described it as an "evisceration."

The exchange encapsulates how the President's aides have intensely disagreed on the best way to accomplish his aims, including the border wall, and whether some of his goals are worth the fight.

The President launched his 2016 presidential campaign on immigration, tapping into a rock solid base of support that catapulted him into the White House. He has relied on immigration fears -- and promises of security -- during campaigning, leaning heavily on the issue leading up to the midterm elections. Though some political observers in Washington scoffed at his promise to build a wall and have Mexico pay for it, his base fully supported it. But recent events have shown that the President could be facing a major defeat on his signature promise, leading him to lash out.

Trump postponed the summer fight over the border wall when he signed a short-term spending bill in September, but the issue has resurfaced and the same disagreements that were laid bare in that August meeting still exist. The prospect of funding the wall this time around grew dim when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Wednesday he will introduce a continuing resolution, a deal that will fund the government through February 8 but deny the President his wall funding.

In a radio interview Wednesday, Ann Coulter, a conservative who has criticized the lack progress on the wall, declared she won't vote for Trump in 2020 if the wall isn't built.

"They're about to have a country where no Republican will ever be elected president again," Coulter told the station WMAL. "Trump will just have been a joke presidency who scammed the American people, amused the populists for a while, but he'll have no legacy whatsoever."

It remains to be seen if his supporters will chalk this up as a loss. Trump has continued to pledge he will get his "big, beautiful wall."

Despite aides signaling an impending concession on the border wall, the President outwardly insisted Wednesday that the wall will be built "one way or the other."

"Mexico is paying (indirectly) for the Wall through the new USMCA, the replacement for NAFTA! Far more money coming to the U.S. Because of the tremendous dangers at the Border, including large scale criminal and drug inflow, the United States Military will build the Wall!" he tweeted.

And Trump has publicly embraced the idea of shutting down the government if he doesn't get funding for the border wall, declaring in front of cameras in the Oval Office that he would be "proud" to do so.

White House officials have been hesitant to guarantee the President would sign the measure McConnell proposed Wednesday, but aides have signaled a softening in their position this week.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 263023

Reported Deaths: 5752
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17675191
Hinds16813331
Harrison14224204
Rankin11167219
Jackson10839190
Lee9050144
Madison8568168
Jones6668114
Forrest6177124
Lauderdale6097192
Lowndes5518120
Lafayette516298
Lamar503965
Washington4923125
Bolivar4104109
Oktibbeha405982
Panola384881
Pontotoc376258
Warren3674103
Monroe3671108
Union355663
Marshall355270
Neshoba3485154
Pearl River3468105
Leflore3111109
Lincoln305688
Hancock291862
Sunflower291475
Tate279662
Alcorn272354
Pike268981
Itawamba268063
Scott259648
Yazoo255256
Prentiss252553
Tippah249250
Copiah249049
Coahoma248054
Simpson242171
Leake237367
Grenada223272
Marion222073
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Adams213671
Wayne212634
Winston207371
George204339
Newton199046
Attala196963
Tishomingo194161
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Jasper179538
Holmes171768
Clay165837
Tallahatchie156235
Stone151425
Clarke147262
Calhoun140822
Smith129226
Yalobusha122034
Walthall114337
Greene113529
Noxubee112926
Montgomery111636
Carroll106622
Lawrence106517
Perry104531
Amite101426
Webster96124
Tunica88821
Claiborne88325
Jefferson Davis88329
Benton85623
Humphreys84624
Kemper80520
Quitman7089
Franklin69917
Choctaw63213
Wilkinson59825
Jefferson56821
Sharkey45117
Issaquena1606
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 439442

Reported Deaths: 6657
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson644371007
Mobile31435569
Madison28158217
Tuscaloosa21492275
Montgomery19873332
Shelby19248132
Baldwin17128189
Lee13137107
Morgan12594142
Etowah12070181
Calhoun11496206
Marshall10420123
Houston8988164
Limestone832081
Cullman8257124
Elmore8183110
DeKalb7871107
Lauderdale7847107
St. Clair7808130
Talladega6445112
Walker6028183
Jackson599145
Colbert548694
Blount546286
Autauga535862
Coffee460764
Dale409685
Franklin374150
Russell354215
Chilton344373
Covington338580
Escambia334544
Tallapoosa3143109
Dallas312996
Chambers303470
Clarke298036
Pike262431
Lawrence253355
Marion253161
Winston233342
Bibb222348
Geneva210247
Marengo208231
Pickens199531
Hale184944
Barbour180538
Fayette177829
Butler173160
Cherokee165131
Henry159525
Monroe152021
Randolph145536
Washington141727
Clay129746
Crenshaw123745
Macon121937
Cleburne121525
Lamar119922
Lowndes114836
Wilcox107922
Bullock103328
Perry99918
Conecuh97822
Sumter90527
Greene77923
Coosa63418
Choctaw51924
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