They’re fully on his side of the fence.
White House officials on Thursday stood behind President Trump’s threat to hold the federal government hostage if he doesn’t get funds for his long-promised wall along the Mexican border.
Trump aides expertly dodged questions about whether the President still expects Mexico to foot the bill for the barrier — as he repeatedly promised supporters on the campaign trail — and refused to offer details about his ominous ultimatum to shut down the government if he doesn’t get his border wall cash.
“He’s going to stick to building that wall, and he wants the money to pay for it,” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said in a “Fox & Friends” interview.
“The President ran on building the wall, won on building the wall and remains steadfastly committed to doing it. Anybody who is surprised by that has not been paying attention for two years,” she said.
Conway made no mention of the vow Trump made from the first day of his campaign: That he would force Mexico to fund the wall, which the U.S. Department of Homeland Security estimated will cost more than $20 billion.
Trump incited the anger of many on Capitol Hill on Tuesday when he threatened to force a federal shutdown unless Congress provides money for the wall.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, appearing at her first press conference in three weeks, evaded several questions about the wall and the prospect of a federal shutdown.
“The President is committed to making sure this gets done,” she said. “We know that the wall and other security measures at the border work. We’ve seen that take place over the last decade, and we’re committed to making sure the American people are protected.”
When asked about how federal workers would fare without paychecks during a furlough, Sanders praised job-creation statistics.
She offered no details when pressed repeatedly about Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s public rebukes of Trump’s promises about payments.
“I certainly don’t think any efforts have been abandoned,” Sanders said. “The President is committed to making this happen and we’re going to push forward.”
Trump said in his campaign announcement, and countless times during the 2016 race, that he would build a “great, great wall” to stop illegal immigration “and make Mexico pay for it.”
He never explained how he expected to do that.
Former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg told TheWrap on Thursday that he and controversial Trump buddy Roger Stone came up with the wall idea.
“It was a simple policy point. It’s not esoteric,” said Nunberg, who was fired over a racist Facebook post. “It goes with the Trump brand — builder. Nobody builds like Trump. It’s marketable.”
A leaked phone call transcript revealed that Trump knew within his first week in office that a deal with Mexico was dead in the water.
In a January phone call with Peña Nieto, Trump asked him to not reveal to the press that Mexico wouldn’t pay a dime.
“You cannot say that to the press because I cannot negotiate under those circumstance,” Trump said.
Trump has since changed tack and is putting pressure on Congress, particularly the leaders of his own party, petulantly threatening to allow a government shutdown unless he gets his way — even though his party controls both houses.
When lawmakers return from summer recess, they must pass a spending bill by the end of September to avoid a shutdown.
Trump’s fellow Republicans have pushed back against the idea, promising that they can work something out before the end of the month.
“I don’t think a government shutdown is necessary, and I don’t think most people want to see a government shutdown, ourselves included,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said Wednesday.
A 16-day shutdown in 2013, which stemmed from a fight over Obamacare, closed National Parks and other properties, left nearly 800,000 federal workers without paychecks and disrupted Veterans Affairs benefits for former service members.
Another shutdown could lead to untold numbers of government furloughs and layoffs, and it could also wreak havoc on the economy.
The U.S. lost an estimated $24 billion during the 2013 shutdown.
House Republicans passed a spending bill last month that included $1.6 billion allotted for Trump’s controversial partition.
The Senate is unlikely to pass such a measure, as Democrats and a number of GOPers have said it’s a nonstarter.
“If the President pursues this path, against the wishes of both Republicans and Democrats, as well as the majority of the American people, he will be heading towards a government shutdown which nobody will like and which won’t accomplish anything,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said.
The GOP attempted to cash in on the border controversy on Thursday with a fund raising push, asking Americans to donate to the party to push Republicans to get taxpayers to pay for the wall.
“It’s time to remind the Senate that Americans want to build the WALL. Sign the Official Petition today!” the Republican National Committee tweeted out along with a link to a page asking for donations.