‘All for nothing’: Trump’s wall retreat bewilders allies

Before President Donald Trump finished speaking from the Rose Garden, putting a temporary end to the five-week government shutdown, a running group text between several of his former aides lit up with complaints.

“[Speaker Nancy] Pelosi ordered everything off the menu and left Trump hanging with the bill,” one Trump ally texted to the group.

“President Nancy Pelosi, she runs the country now,” said a former White House official. “We went from indefinite shutdown, to down payment, to cave — all within a span of 24 hours.”

That official said that Trump’s core supporters and former aides are “furious” and “melting down.”

Bewildered by his decision to accept a deal without funding for a wall on the southern border — not even the “down payment” the White House had requested a day earlier — some of his most loyal supporters fretted that Trump was in danger of losing his fervent base that has fueled his presidency. It didn’t help that special counsel Robert Mueller had just released more details about the Trump campaign’s alleged attempts to backchannel with WikiLeaks during the election.

It all left Trump staring at a tough road ahead. Having staked his nascent 2020 reelection messaging to the wall fight, Trump now can’t claim victory as Democrats start entering the field. After stumbling in his first bout with Pelosi, Trump must now face an invigorated Democratic-led House keen to investigate the White House. And following Mueller’s reveal of more evidence that Trump’s 2016 team tried to furtively gather intel about hacked Democratic emails, Trump will have to fend off increasing calls for impeachment.

Trump’s allies in Congress and some conservative immigration advocates did come to the president’s defense on Friday, arguing that he was taking the high road and calling Democrats’ bluff on a vow to negotiate on border security once the government reopened.

 

 

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