President Trump met with his cabinet for the first time in 2019 and in the 12th day of the partial government shutdown. He and Democratic leaders have yet to come to an agreement over border security. He wants a wall, they refuse to fund it. The bills Democrats plan to vote on on Thursday include $1.3 billion for border security, not one penny of which is for the wall. In that sticky context the commander in chief sat down with his administration.
Democrats have argued that a wall is not necessary. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also noted that the government has yet to spend last year's congressional funds for border security. Trump pushed back at that notion.
"Not all of the money has been paid, but the money has been used," Trump insisted.
He went on to explain that, "We pay it when it's finished so they do a good job."
"$5.6 billion is such a small amount compared to the level of the problem," Trump argued.
The press also wanted Trump's thoughts on incoming Sen. Mitt Romney's critical op-ed of him. The president said he was "surprised" Romney rebuked him this quickly.
"I wish he would be a team player."
Trump later mused, if Romney fought against Barack Obama the way he fights against me, "he would have won the election."
He addressed a few more controversies, including the recent exit of his former Defense Secretary James Mattis. Although Mattis wrote a resignation letter, Trump told the press he "essentially" fired him, adding that he "hadn't done too good" in Afghanistan.
Trump on Mattis at Cabinet meeting:— Shannon Pettypiece (@spettypi) January 2, 2019
"What's he done for me? How had he done in Afghanistan? Not too good"
"As you know, president Obama fired him, and essentially so did I "
Mattis was one of several people to oppose Trump's decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria. Still, POTUS remained adamant that the U.S. is getting out of the country.
"I don't want to be in Syria forever."