Donald Trump to meet with Democrats over government shutdown

Donald Trump remained resolute in his demand for funding for a border wall on Sunday as negotiations between Democrats and Republicans, to strike a deal and reopen the US government, stalled.

Apparently content to let the shutdown continue indefinitely, he left for meetings at Camp David as determined as ever to secure the $5.6 billion requested to finance his key campaign pledge.

In Washington Mike Pence, the vice president, restarted talks with key Democrat representatives in an attempt to break the deadlock with the looming threat that Mr Trump may invoke emergency powers in order to get the wall built.

Meanwhile, Mick Mulvaney, his acting chief of staff, said the US president was prepared to take the notion of a concrete wall permanently "off the table" replacing it with a "steel fence" as a concession to Democrats.

Moments before boarding Marine One, the presidential helicopter, Mr Trump said: "We have to build the wall or we have to build a barrier.

"It (the shutdown) is a very important battle to win. This wall will pay for itself many times over the course of this year. Most importantly it’s about safety. It’s not just illegals. It’s criminals, it’s drugs, it’s human trafficking, where they grab women and sell them."

He added: "Human trafficking is a big business, is a big deal. Dealing in children is a big deal. Children are probably the most harmed by not having a wall or its equivalent.

"Everybody’s playing games but I can say this: I think the Democrats want to make a deal. I really do. This shutdown could end tomorrow or it also could go on for a long time."

As the shutdown was set to enter its 17th day Mr Trump again raised the prospect of using presidential powers to declare a national emergency on the southern border with Mexico as a way to bypass Congress and secure the money.

The president is able to act unilaterally in times of national crisis under the provisions of the National Emergencies Act, although some legal scholars are sceptical about his chance of success.

Mr Trump said:"I may decide a national emergency depending on what happens over the next few days."

Adam Schiff, a Democrat congressman from California, said: "Look, if Harry Truman couldn’t nationalise the steel industry during wartime, this president doesn’t have the power to declare an emergency and build a multi-billion dollar wall on the border. So that’s a non-starter."

Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat speaker in the House of Representatives, has indicated her party would introduce bills in an attempt to reopen certain areas of the government, starting with the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service.

Last week Miss Pelosi said she was willing to give Mr Trump only $1 toward his wall. The latest Reuters/Ipsos poll, taken in late December, had 47 per cent of the public blaming Mr Trump for the shutdown, while 33 per cent blamed Democrats

Separately, Mr Trump, confirmed on Sunday that Jamal al-Badawi, the al-Qaeda militant behind the attack on the USS Cole in 2000, in which 17 sailors died, was killed in a US airstrike on New Year’s Day.

Mr Trump wrote on Twitter: "Our GREAT MILITARY has delivered justice for the heroes lost and wounded in the cowardly attack on the USS Cole. We have just killed the leader of that attack, Jamal al-Badawi. Our work against al Qaeda continues. We will never stop in our fight against Radical Islamic Terrorism!"