On Christmas, Trump Again Lobbies for Border Wall

WASHINGTON — President Trump marked Christmas by again lobbying for a wall at the southern border, underscoring his unwillingness to acquiesce to Democrats over money to pay for border security.

The president offered no indication of when the partial government shutdown might end, insisting that the thousands of federal workers still on the job through the Christmas holidays without pay were content making the sacrifice if it guaranteed funding for a wall at the border with Mexico.

“Many of those workers have said to me — communicated — stay out until you get the funding for the wall,” Mr. Trump said, speaking to reporters after a teleconference to offer holiday greetings to American military personnel. “These federal workers want the wall.”

Mr. Trump and lawmakers have remained at odds as funding lapsed for nine departments and numerous federal agencies, with each side refusing to budge from their strongly held positions on border security and wall funding. Some lawmakers are becoming resigned to the prospect of the government remaining closed until the new year, when the majority shifts to Democrats in the House.

The president, who canceled his 16-day vacation to his Florida estate and instead remained in Washington, continued to offer contradicting assertions about the fate of his signature campaign promise.

“I can tell you it’s not going to be open until we have a wall, a fence, whatever they’d like to call it,” Mr. Trump told reporters, a nod to the “artistic slats” he has started advocating instead of the concrete wall he once promised. “I’ll call it whatever they want. But it’s all the same thing. It’s a barrier from people pouring into our country.”

“There may be the case of an Olympic champion who can get over the wall, but for the most part you are not able to do it,” the president said, describing a wall as high as 30 feet, the equivalent of a three-story building.

In the same discussion with reporters, Mr. Trump both insisted, without evidence, that the wall was being built and could be “either renovated or brand-new by Election Day” and reiterated his demand that Congress allocate billions of dollars for a wall.

During the question-and-answer session with reporters in the Oval Office on Tuesday, Mr. Trump again said that he was pushing ahead with a stretch of wall construction in Texas. But he declined to give any additional details.

“Yesterday I gave out 115 miles worth of wall — 115 miles in Texas,” the president said. “And it’s going to be built hopefully rapidly. I’m going there at the end of January for the start of construction.”

Describing that section of the wall as “a big stretch,” Mr. Trump added that “we gave it out at a great price. So we’re going to have great wall there, and we have other sections to give out.”

Asked who had received the contract, Mr. Trump did not offer any specifics. “Different people, different people,” he responded. “Highly bid.”

Officials with the White House and Department of Homeland Security did not respond to a request for comments on specifics about the contract.

No legislative action to resolve the shutdown is expected before Thursday, when both chambers reconvene. Members of Congress have noted the increased possibility that the impasse will last until Jan. 3, when Representative Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, is expected to reclaim the speakership.

Lacking a majority in both chambers, lawmakers said, likely will force Mr. Trump to realize how much more difficult it will be for him to enforce his own agenda.

On Twitter, the president has continued to stew over criticism and his perceived enemies. In one message, he lamented his loneliness during the holidays — a trend that continued on Christmas Day, as the president veered into an unprompted attack on James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director he fired more than a year ago.

The president complained over the outrage, particularly from Democrats, that still percolates over his decision to oust Mr. Comey, adding that “it’s a disgrace what’s happening in this country.”

“But, other than that,” Mr. Trump concluded, “I wish everybody a Merry Christmas.”

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