President Donald Trump’s vow Tuesday to close down the government if he doesn’t get money for the border wall mirrors private comments he has made to advisers in recent days – and could cause significant rifts within his own party if he follows through.
The fight over the wall is likely to explode in September as the administration wrangles over a new budget, an increase in the debt ceiling, the beginning of a tax reform package and a possible resuscitation of health care legislation.
Trump has told his advisers he will not accept a deal on other issues without money for the wall “and it has to be real money,” said one senior White House official.
Trump has told senior White House officials and advisers he would be willing to go to whatever means necessary to get money for the wall, a contentious claim even among his advisers.
He hasn’t given specific amounts of money that he wants, but “enough to really start building it,” said one person who spoke to him this weekend.
“He is animated about the wall,” the person said. “He cares about that more than many other things. He knows his base cares and chants about it.”
At a campaign rally in Phoenix on Tuesday, the president reiterated to his loyalists that he is committed to his vision for securing the border. “If we have to close down that government,” Trump said, “we are going to build that wall.”