Mr. Trump and Democratic leaders emerged from a two-hour meeting in the White House Situation Room without a deal to reopen government agencies that have already been shuttered for two weeks, and the two sides offered sharply contrasting views of where they stood. By day’s end, the two sides appeared to be still locked in a stalemate.
Democrats called the meeting “contentious” while the president and Republican leaders in the House called it “productive.” And while Mr. Trump announced that he had assigned Vice President Mike Pence to lead a “working group” to negotiate with Democrats over the weekend, Democrats said the phrase “working group” was never discussed.
“We told the president we needed the government open,” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, told reporters outside the White House. “He resisted. In fact, he said he’d keep the government closed for a very long period of time, months or even years.”
Appearing in the Rose Garden later, Mr. Trump confirmed the remark. “I did. I did. Absolutely I said that,” he said, flanked by Mr. Pence; Kirstjen Nielsen, the homeland security secretary; and House Republican leaders. “I don’t think it will, but I am prepared.”
The impasse, heading into its third week, has closed parts of nine federal agencies, including the Interior Department and the Internal Revenue Service, and left 800,000 federal employees either furloughed or working without pay. Mr. Trump expressed little concern for their plight, telling reporters on Friday afternoon that when he hosted members of the Border Patrol union — his political allies — on Thursday at the White House, they told him not to worry about them, and that he was doing “a great thing for our country.”
Friday’s effort to jump-start talks was an early test of the new political dynamic in Washington, where Democrats have just taken control of the House for the first time in eight years. Mr. Trump, trying to seize control of the narrative, followed the session with his rambling Rose Garden appearance. There, he said he told Democrats he wants $5.6 billion for the wall — a figure that is a nonstarter for Democrats, who insist he will get no funding for the barrier at all.
Ever the real estate developer, Mr. Trump offered his vision for what the wall would look like, saying it would be either solid concrete or solid steel, though “steel is actually more expensive,” he said.
The president then boasted that its construction would be a boon for American industry: “All of the border things that we’ll be building will be done right here in the good old U.S.A. by steel companies that were practically out of business when I came into office.”