Trump congratulates Pelosi in briefing room, stumps for ‘wall’ by any other name

‘Whatever you want to call it’

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., swears in members in the Capitol’s House chamber on the first day of the 116th Congress on January 3, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump made a surprise appearance Thursday in the White House briefing room, congratulating Speaker Nancy Pelosi on taking back the gavel and predicting they will work together on substantial legislation.

“It’s a very very great achievement and hopefully we’re going to work together and get lots of things done, like infrastructure,” Trump said.

“I think it’ll work out and be a little bit differently than a lot of people are thinking,” he said, referring to forecasts from both parties that the two cannot work together.

Trump, flanked by federal law enforcement personnel he described as helping secure the southern border, used his appearance to make another pitch for his border barrier.

Again trying to give Democrats what he called last month “an out,” the president said one does not have to call the proposed structure a “wall.”

“Whatever you want to call it,” Trump said as senior Democrats refuse to agree to any partial government shutdown-ending package that would specifically allocate funds for a “wall.”

Trump in recent days has referred to his proposal as “artistically designed steel slats” or even a fence in places. The latter echoes what some senior Democrats say their party would support.

One of the border officers said they have “skin in the game,” and the group assembled with Trump have “nothing to do with” politics. Another urged Americans watching to press their members of Congress to support a border barrier.

Like other Justice Department employees, none of the officers with Trump are being paid as part of the shutdown.

Trump did not take questions and his top spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, left the room with him as reporters screamed for the president to take questions.

Trump came out just hours after Pelosi won the speakership on the House floor, addressed the chamber and Democrats were celebrating. He claimed he and the officers were meeting in the Oval Office and he decided “let’s go out and see the press.”

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