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Trump Tweets of Talks With Dems, Invites None to Talks

Roll Call logo Roll Call 12/22/2018 johnbennett@cqrollcall.com
a man holding a wine glass: Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., left, and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, were among a list of lawmakers and officials invited to the White House Saturday during a government shutdown for border security lunch with President Trump. No Democrats were in attendance. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) © Provided by CQ Roll Call, Inc. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., left, and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, were among a list of lawmakers and officials invited to the White House Saturday during a government shutdown for border security lunch with President Trump. No Democrats were in attendance. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump claimed Saturday to be negotiating with Democratic leaders to end a partial government shutdown. But when he convened a lunch at the White House, he invited only Republican lawmakers and officials.

In fact, Trump broke bread in the executive mansion’s private residence with mostly immigration hardliners. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said again Saturday that any deal that would re-open the Justice, Homeland security, Agriculture, Interior and other departments will have to be negotiated by Trump and Senate Democratic leader Charles E. Schumer.

Trump, who has uttered and tweeted thousands of false and inaccurate statements since taking office, claimed Saturday morning that he was “working hard” at the White House after canceling his planned trip to his South Florida resort for a holiday break. And he told his millions of followers, which was quickly picked up by cable news and other media outlets, that he was pursuing a bipartisan deal.

[Three Roadblocks to Ending The Shutdown]

“I am in the White House, working hard. News reports concerning the Shutdown and Syria are mostly FAKE,” the president contended.

“We are negotiating with the Democrats on desperately needed Border Security (Gangs, Drugs, Human Trafficking & more),” the president wrote, adding ominously for the thousands of federal workers wondering about future paychecks: “but it could be a long stay.”

About an hour later, Trump fired off this tweet, raising hopes that talks were progressing: “Will be having lunch in White House residence with large group concerning Border Security.”

But the guest list featured nary a Democrat.

Vice President Mike Pence, Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, White House policy adviser Jared Kushner, and White House legislative affairs chief Shahira Knight were at the lunch meeting, according to deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters.

The president, rather than hearing the views of anti-border wall Democrats who might be willing to give him money for a border fence, also invited a number of conservative immigration hardliners.

That list included House Freedom Caucus leaders Mark Meadows of North Carolina and Jim Jordan of Utah — both helped convince Trump to demand $5 billion for his wall project and to reject a Senate shutdown-averting stopgap that called for $1.3 billion for “fencing.”

[Hammered by Conservatives, Trump Pivots to ‘Principles’ and Chaos]

Also in attendance was Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, who this week made his views on the wall and coming shutdown clear in who this week made his views on the wall and coming shutdown clear on cable TV hits and Twitter:

“This is not about the wall for Democrats. It’s not even about immigration for Democrats. This is about denying @POTUS a win on a signature agenda item that he promised the American people,” he wrote.

Also on the list were Utah Sen. Mike Lee, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby of Alabama. Graham has urged the president to “dig in” on his wall plans before and Lee voted against an immigration bill pushed by the Trump White House, in part, because it would have offered citizenship to DACA recipients and increased the number of undocumented migrants eligible to be covered by that program.

Arizona GOP Rep. Andy Biggs also got an invitation. He has introduced legislation to fund Trump’s border wall project.

Walters did not respond to an inquiry about why no Democrats were invited to the lunch meeting.

Watch: What Really Happens During a Government Shutdown, Explained

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