Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on Wednesday pushed back against claims that President Donald Trump is backing down on his demand for billions in funding for a border wall.
At the same time, Conway confirmed Trump would be open to a short-term deal that would avert a shutdown as a Friday midnight deadline looms, but not provide new funding towards a wall.
On Tuesday, Trump responded "We'll see what happens" when asked about a shutdown that last week he said he would be "proud" to make happen for the sake of border security.
"The president is not softening his stance," Conway said in an appearance on Fox and Friends. "He has a responsibility to keep the government moving forward and he has a responsibility to get border security. If he could do that by himself he would have done it already."
In a question and answer session afterward with reporters, Conway said that the president would "take a look at" a proposed "continuing resolution" from lawmakers that would keep the government open until Feb. 8.
She continued to insist that the president would be able to find ways to obtain money for a wall in existing funds across other government agencies, though the White House has not been able to provide further details on how it would redirect that money legally.
But Fox host Ainsley Earhardt pushed back.
"People who voted for him and want the wall and went to the polls to vote for that wall they want to know how he's going to do this and they want to know why he's softening his stance this morning," Earhardt said.
After denying Trump was softening his stance, Conway said that Republicans were largely to blame for inaction on one of the president's key campaign promises.
"On this, they are walking away and I think that's why some of them lost to be honest with you," Conway said.
Trump later took to Twitter to spread his claim that the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) — which still has yet to be approved by Congress — has resulted in Mexico already “(indirectly)” paying for the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Mexico is paying (indirectly) for the Wall through the new USMCA, the replacement for NAFTA! Far more money coming to the U.S. Because of the tremendous dangers at the Border, including large scale criminal and drug inflow, the United States Military will build the Wall!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 19, 2018
But the White House has not been able to provide any evidence to support this claim, and trade officials shortly after the USMCA's signing three weeks ago could not say that a border wall was ever part of the extensive discussions with Mexican officials.
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