President Trump agreed to re-open the government for three weeks because Democrats signaled they're willing to negotiate on border security, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Monday.
“The president opened the government on the basis that Democrats have signaled to us that they’re willing to actually get serious about a real deal, and get serious about fixing the problem at the border, including funding for a border wall,” Sanders said during her first briefing in 41 days. It was also the first briefing since Trump agreed to sign a three-week spending package Friday.
The shutdown, which lasted more than a month, was triggered over the issue of border security. Trump requested $5.7 billion in funding for border security and construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Democrats vowed to block any spending package that included wall funding. It remained unclear whether the two sides could come together on a long-term package before the next Feb. 15 funding deadline. If not, a new shutdown could be triggered.
Sanders said Monday that Trump “doesn't want to go through another shutdown.”
“That’s not the goal,” she said. “The goal is border security and protecting the American people. Ideally, Democrats would take these next three weeks to negotiate in good faith, as they indicated that they would, and come up with a deal that makes sense, that actually fixes the problem.”
If a deal doesn’t happen, Sanders suggested that the president would declare a national emergency in order to get funds to build a barrier on the southern border.
“If they don’t come back with a deal, that means Democrats get virtually nothing,” Sanders said. “That will... force him to take executive action that does not give Democrats the things that they want.”
Monday’s briefing with Sanders was also the first briefing since former Trump adviser Roger Stone was indicted last week as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. Sanders declined to answer questions about whether Trump was considering a pardon. She also said the case did not involve the president.
“The president did nothing wrong throughout this process,” she said. “The charges, the indictment, against Mr. Stone have absolutely nothing to do with the president.”
Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed this report.