The government is STILL shut down
President Donald Trump was asked if he thought landlords and bill collectors should be lenient on federal employees whose paychecks are affected by the shutdown.
"I think they will. I've been a landlord for a long time… they work with people," Trump said.
He continued, "I would encourage them to be nice and easy."
By the numbers: There are approximately 380,000 federal employees on furlough and another 420,000 working without pay. Trump has claimed they support the shutdown, but many have begun spoken out, saying they are worried about buying food or paying rent.
Asked what financial and social safety net is available for federal workers out of a job during the government shutdown, President Trump told reporters that “the safety net will be a strong border.”
“The safety net will be a strong border because we’re going to be safe,” Trump said. “I’m not talking about economically, but ultimately economically, I really believe that these people … believe in what we’re doing.”
He continued: “I think a lot of the people you’re referring to ... are really wanting that to happen, too. I really believe a lot of them want to see border security and they’re willing to give it up.”
President Trump was asked about the $10,000 raise that his Cabinet members, Vice President Mike Pence, and other senior administration officials are due to receive.
Asked if he would ask them to not accept the raise due to the shutdown, Trump expressed some openness.
"Well I might consider that, that’s something I might consider," he said.
Pence nodded following the news conference when he was asked if he would turn down a $10,000 pay raise he’s slated to potentially be issued during the partial government shutdown.
CNN reported earlier Friday that Pence and senior political aides may see their paychecks go up soon if Congress does not pass legislation that would extend a pay freeze for those officials, according to documents from the Office of Personnel Management.
A reporter just asked President Trump if he has considered using emergency powers to build his wall without Congressional approval and necessary funds.
"Yes, I have. And I can do it if I want," Trump claimed.
The reporter asked if that means he doesn't need Congressional approval to build the wall, then.
"Absolutely," Trump said. "We can call a national emergency. I haven't done it. I may do it. I may do it. We can call a national emergency and build it very quickly. It's another way of doing it."
Asked if that was a threat to Democrats, Trump replied, "I never threaten anybody, but I am allowed to do it -- call a national emergency."
CNN's Kaitlan Collins pressed President Trump on how he can say he's not failing on delivering his campaign promise to build a concrete wall and have Mexico pay for it.
"A very nice question so beautifully asked," he said dismissively. "I just told you that we just made a trade deal," he said, calling the $5.6 billion for the wall "peanuts" compared to the revenue the trade deal will generate.
He noted that "steel is stronger than concrete."
"I know you're not into the construction business, you don’t understand something. We now have a great steel business," he told Collins.
Trump then touting the steel industry's growth under his administration.
"If I build a wall and the wall is made out of steel instead of concrete I think people will like that… I’ll have it done by companies in our country that are now powerful great companies again," he said.
Trump did not explain any justification for shutting down the government over border wall funding.
Asked if he was proud about owing the shutdown, as he said he would be in early December, President Trump said he's "very proud of doing what I'm doing."
"Well, you know, I appreciate the way you say that but once -- I'm very proud of doing what I'm doing. I don't call it a shutdown. I call it doing what you have to do for benefit and for the safety of our country. ...So can you call it whatever you want. You can call it the Schumer or the Pelosi or the trump shutdown, it doesn't make any difference to me. Just words," Trump said.
President Trump, speaking to reporters, said he wouldn't reopen the government until the dispute over border security is solved.
Asked why he won't reopen the government to create more space to have a broader conversation on border security, Trump said, "We're not going to do that. We won't be doing pieces. We won't be doing it in drips and drabs."
"We think it can go very quickly. We won't be opening until it's solved. We think this is a much bigger problem. The border is a much more dangerous problem. It's a problem of national security. It's a problem of terrorist. I talk about human traffickers, I talk about drugs and gangs but a lot of people don't say we have terrorists coming through the southern border because they find that's probably the easiest place to come through. They drive right in and make a left. Not going to happen," the President said.
Watch it here:
President Trump, now taking reporters' questions, confirmed that he told top Democrats he was prepared to let the partial government shutdown -- in which up to 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed and are going without pay -- for months or years.
"I did. I did," Trump emphatically said.
He continued: "I don't think it will but I think I can speak for Republicans in the Senate and Republicans in the House -- they feel very strongly about having a safe country, about having a border that makes sense...I hope it doesn't go on even beyond a few more days. It really could open very quickly."
Though Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that President Trump suggested the shutdown could go on for months or years, Trump seemed to express some optimism at the weekend working group's potential to end the standoff.
"I'm going to ask Mike Pence put together a team of people who will work over the weekend... on the border, different things having to do with border security, including at the ports of entry," he said.
"The Democrats really want to do something," Trump said, noting the $5.6 billion number.
He added: "What we want to do has to be done properly."