Talk about lousy timing.
President Donald Trump had hoped to spend the weekend celebrating the one-year anniversary of his inauguration amid friends at his opulent Palm Beach, Florida, estate. Instead, he’s facing a government shutdown.
Trump scrapped plans to depart Friday for his Mar-a-Lago club, where he’d been set to attend a high-dollar fundraiser Saturday night to commemorate his first year in office.
Instead, he spent the afternoon in the Oval Office, trying to hash out a deal with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. He spent the evening in the White House residence, watching television and calling up friends, insisting Democrats would be blamed if the federal government shut down at midnight, according to a person familiar with the president’s conversations but not authorized to discuss them publicly.
Elsewhere in the White House, the press offices had emptied out even before the Senate had voted on — and failed to pass — a short-term funding bill.
While White House aides did not respond to questions, Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told reporters he didn’t expect Trump to go to Florida Saturday.
“No, I don’t,” he said. “I think the president’s been very clear: He’s not leaving until this is finished.”
But the timing was undeniably unfortunate for a president trying to steer the conversation away from controversy and back to his first-year accomplishments.
“We hope that everyone comes together and keeps the government open,” White House adviser Kellyanne Conway told reporters moments before Schumer left the White House after meeting with Trump on Friday.
Trump was originally scheduled to attend a “Trump Victory Dinner” Saturday night at Mar-a-Lago, with proceeds going to a joint fundraising committee for his re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee. That was up in the air as the budget negotiations dragged on.
If a deal isn’t reached by midnight, the reverberations will be felt across Washington, all over the nation — and within the White House residence.
According to federal stipulations, just 21 of the 96 members of the White House residential staff would report to duty on any day of a shutdown.
“Essentially, our core group of residence staff would still report to work to ensure that basic services are still provided to the first family,” said Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for first lady Melania Trump.
Electricians and engineers would also report for duty “to ensure the safety of the facilities in the mansion,” Grisham said.