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With clock ticking on another potential government shutdown, Trump blames Democrats

Laura King, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump sought Sunday to pre-emptively cast blame on Democrats if an impasse over his demand for a border wall leads to a second partial government shutdown this week.

Stopgap funding for about one-third of the government is due to expire at midnight Friday, and congressional negotiations over border security and other immigration-related issues have stalled, according to participants.

The snag, if it lasts, could presage another shutdown, although a degree of posturing by both sides is not unusual under such circumstances, as neither side wishes to appear too willing to make major concessions.

Trump in December publicly said he would be "proud to shut down the government." That remark dogged him throughout the 35-day closing that followed until he was forced to temporarily abandon his demand for $5.7 billion for his desired border wall.

Sunday, he took to Twitter to paint Democrats as the responsible party this time.

"I actually believe they want a Shutdown," he wrote. He suggested that Democrats wanted to deflect attention from issues like the messy fight in Virginia over whether Gov. Ralph Northam and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, both Democrats, should resign over scandals involving racist behavior and accusations of sexual misconduct.

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"They want a new subject!" wrote Trump, whose own week was marked by a widely derided congressional appearance by his acting attorney general, Matthew Whitaker, who evaded questions about whether Trump attempted to quash some of the multiple investigations surrounding him.

Also this past week, the president delivered a combative State of the Union speech during which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., greeted his seemingly incongruous call for "compromise and the common good" with sarcastic clapping.

Trump's acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, said on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday that another shutdown "absolutely cannot" be ruled out, although many of Trump's Republican allies in Congress have made it clear that they hope to avoid such a scenario.

On "Fox News Sunday," Mulvaney suggested another way out, saying the president would "take whatever money Congress agrees to allocate for border barriers" and then "go off and find the money someplace else, legally."

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