Trump makes surprise appearance in WH briefing room, touts border wall support, congratulates Pelosi
President Trump made his first appearance in the White House briefing room Thursday afternoon at which he made another push for Congress to provide funding for his long-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border while flanked by members of the border patrol officers' union.
Trump was introduced by White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders after the White House press corps was hastily called to the briefing room. Neither Trump nor Sanders took questions from the assembled media.
The president began by congratulating Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on her election as speaker of the House, calling it a "very, very great achievement."
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"Hopefully, we're going to work together and we're going to get lots of things done, like infrastructure and so much more," Trump said. "So hopefully, we're going to have a lot of things that we can get done together and I think it's actually going to work out. I think it'll be a little bit different than a lot of people are thinking."
Trump then turned his attention to the border wall, the main sticking point in the partial government shutdown, which began Dec. 22.
"We need protection in our country," the president said. "The people of our country want it. I have never had so much support as I have in the last week over my stance for border security, for border control and for, frankly, the wall or the barrier. I have never had anything like it in terms of calls coming in, in terms of people writing and tweeting and doing whatever they have to do. I've never had this much support."
The president then turned the microphone over to Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council.
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"I promise you, if you interview Border Patrol agents, they will tell you that walls work," Judd told the media. "I worked in Naco, Ariz., for ten years. We didn't have physical barriers in Naco and illegal immigration and drug smuggling was absolutely out of control. We built those walls, those physical barriers, and illegal immigration dropped exponentially. Anywhere that you look, where we have built walls, they have worked ... We need those physical barriers and we appreciate President Trump and all of his efforts in getting us those physical barriers."
Art Del Cueto, the council's vice president, told reporters that while Border Patrol agents were among those affected by the ongoing partial shutdown, "it comes down to border security, and we're extremely grateful to President Trump and we fully support what he is doing to take care of our nation's borders, to take care of the future of this United States. It has nothing to do with political parties."
Trump's appearance in the briefing room came hours before the House was expected to approve a bill that would fund the Department of Homeland Security at its current levels through Feb. 8. That measure would provide $1.3 billion for border security and no funding for the wall. The White House formally threatened to veto the measure, citing "lack of adequate border funding" and other matters.