Donald Trump confirmed on Friday that he was “prepared” to let the partial government shutdown drag on for months — or even years, as CNN reported — if congress does not allocate $5.6 billion for the “border wall” that he promised to build in his 2016 presidential campaign. The response from Twitter users was quick and decisive — with dozens using the word “dictator” to describe Trump.
Following lengthy meetings between Trump and top Democrats on Friday morning, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters that Trump had said in the private meeting that “he’d keep the government closed for a very long period of time — months or even years,” according to the CNN report.
Shortly after that, Trump himself appeared to take questions in the White House Rose Garden, where he confirmed that Schumer’s characterization of his words was accurate. “Absolutely I said that,” Trump said, per CNN. “I don’t think it will, but I’m prepared.”
Behind the scenes, according to an ABC News report Friday afternoon, Trump is reportedly considering declaring a “national emergency” that would, he believes, allow him to simply take funds from other areas of government — likely the military — and use it to construct a wall along the United States-Mexico border.
Trump confirms that he told Pelosi and Schumer that the government shutdown could go on for years. He can't cite a single shred of progress that was made during their meeting. pic.twitter.com/J4rQGNg27d
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 4, 2019
But on Twitter, Trump’s statement that he would keep the government closed, possibly for years — as well as the report of a potential “national emergency” declaration — produced alarm that Trump now believes that he is more powerful than any president, and sees himself as a dictator.
Very scary when Trump says he has and is thinking of declaring a national emergency (martial law) to build the wall. First step to become a dictator . — feeling disgusted
— RICHARD HARVEY (@bassnbear) January 4, 2019
In his many discussions of the partial government shutdown, Trump has rarely made reference to the federal workers who are forced to go without pay as long as the government remains closed. According to the New York Times, approximately 800,000 workers have been left without paychecks — effectively laid off — as a result of the shutdown.
But on Friday Trump addressed those now-paid workers, claiming that they would be willing to give up their wages in order to keep the government closed, according to Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale, reporting via Twitter.
“The people that won’t get next week’s pay or the following week’s pay, I think if you ever really looked at those people, I think they’d say, ‘Mr. President, keep going, this is far more important,'” Trump said, as quoted by Dale.
Trump can no longer control the dictator inside him. We just ain't sure which dictator that is. https://t.co/xBQVfYSx1I
— Tea Pain (@TeaPainUSA) January 4, 2019
Trump also confirmed that he is considering a declaration of national emergency during his Rose Garden press conference, Vox writer Aaron Rupar reported via Twitter.