President Donald Trump congratulated Democrat Nancy Pelosi on her election as House speaker and insisted on the need for a wall along the US-Mexico border.
In a surprising, albeit brief, appearance before reporters on Thursday, his first of the year, Trump hailed the “tremendous achievement” of Pelosi, who at age 78 once again takes leadership of the House of Representatives, a post she held from 2007-2011, Xinhua news agency reported.
Trump’s appearance before the press, during which he took no questions, took place a few hours after the legislators of the new 116th Congress were installed, the lower house shifting to Democratic control although Republicans still retain their majority in the Senate.
“We need protection in the country,” stated Trump, who was accompanied to the White House press briefing room by National Border Patrol Council president Brandon Judd and other officials from that agency.
Amid the partial government shutdown, in its 13th day on Thursday and which Trump threatened to maintain as long as he does not get the funds he is demanding for his border wall, the president said that the country needs to halt the illegal drugs that are coming into the US over its borders.
He also emphasized that never before had he received so much support as during the past week for his so far inflexible stance on border security.
Upon speaking at the request of the president, Judd said that “Walls work. I promise you that if you interview Border Patrol agents, they will say they work.”
Just before he showed up in the press briefing room, Trump posted on his Twitter account a video lasting a little over 20 seconds with images of the border zone, especially the marches of hundreds of people who tried to illegally cross into the US and written phrases such as “Crisis on the border,” “crime” “drugs” and “lawlessness,” finally concluding with the words “Build the wall” flashed three times on the screen.
In other Twitter posts, Trump has blamed Democrats for the partial government shutdown and said that it is merely an election strategy by the opposition party.
“The Shutdown is only because of the 2020 Presidential Election. The Democrats know they can’t win based on all of the achievements of ‘Trump,’ … For them, strictly politics!” tweeted the president.
The partial shutdown of many government agencies since Dec. 22 had idled some 800,000 of the 2.1 million federal workers, who will not receive paychecks as long as a budget bill has not been passed by lawmakers and signed by Trump.
Trump has refused to sign any budget bill sent to him by Congress unless it contains at least $5 billion in funding for the wall, a project that Democrats staunchly oppose, saying will be wasteful, will not work to seal the border and is against American values.