It was as if Mark Meadows was watching a political car accident in slow motion. In November 2018, when the House Republicans lost their legislative majority, he became a player in Donald Trump's Washington. In late November and early December, a paralyzing fear came to mind: the Republicans would fold and keep the government open, without keeping the President's promise to finance the border wall with Mexico. Unthinkable. Carelessly he had to stop it.
When he entered a split government, Meadows believed that this was Trump's hill on which he was to die. "It's a symbol of the government's overall malfunction, and it's bigger than just the wall, and that's why both sides are buried," Meadows said in January. "It is the one who will decide what will happen to this government in the next two years. We're trying to figure out who the most powerful person in Washington, DC will be. The bottom line will be either Nancy Pelosi or It will be Donald J. Trump. And that's what matters.
Months after the following 34-day shutdown, the full story of how the President was stalled is a lesson on how to take the reins in Trump's Washington. Lawmakers near Trump who wanted a stoppage knew exactly how to bring the President to their side: threatening others to feel weak and pushing this threat near Capitol Hill and eventually Fox News , It also helped to have a man inside ̵
With the last breath of Republican Washington and the Democratic DC raised its head and was ready to take the plunge. On November 27, during an interview at the Oval Office for Politico Trump formulated his demands: He wanted at least $ 5 billion for his wall and more money for border security.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called every member of his Democratic Caucus to inform them that they could not allow Trump to receive $ 5 billion. "There is a final," Schumer said a few days before the White House meeting. "On January 3, Nancy will pass a [funding bill] without a wall, and we'll do anything for it, and Mitch McConnell will keep the government shut." He added, "We believe we have the upper hand."
Schumer was right. On December 11, he and Nancy Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, went to the White House for a meeting with the President. It was not long before the Republicans were evicted. Scolded by Schumer, who would be responsible for the case if the government were closed, Trump decided to own it. "I'm telling you something, I'm proud to shut down the border security government, Chuck, because people in this country do not want criminals and people who have a lot of problems and are pouring drugs into our country," said the president. "So I will take the coat. I will be the one who turns it off.
The meeting was a resounding success for the Democrats and an undeniable train crash for the Republicans; There was almost unanimity on Capitol Hill, even among many presidential aides. The president had a different view. After the meeting, Trump told House Speaker Paul Ryan that the reviews were "great. That's why I was so good at The Apprentice "he said.
"There are reviews for this stuff?" Ryan asked, seemingly confused by the remark.
"There are reviews for everything," said Trump.
Just over a week later, [Maldows in the hallway of the House] urged Republicans to hold a stiff spine, his fears of a GOP crease on the other came Side for carrying the Capitol dome. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell prepared a bill to finance the entire government by February 2019. In this way, a standstill could be avoided, and it had the additional benefit of Pelosis spokesman with a masonry crisis – a skirmish – the first days bothered The Republicans believed they could win.
Meadows did not like it all. Why, in God's name, would the Republicans have more influence than the Democrats took back the house? he thought. Start the fight now. Leaving the floor of the house, he went to Capitol Hill Club with Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and his colleague Freedom Caucus, MP Scott Perry (R-Pa.). They were there to meet their old colleague Mulvaney, who had recently been appointed Deputy Chief of Staff of the White House for something to eat. Whether they planned it or not, the private club meeting became the starting point for the longest shutdown in American history.
At around 10:00 pm, a few blocks from Capitol Hill, McConnell did exactly what Meadows had predicted: he took the Senate bill, with little fanfare. The Senate was ready to give up. They passed the bill by ballot, a rare way to pass a law without a single senator having to vote. It showed how uncontroversial this was in the Senate.
Then the situation came with a call out of control for McConnell and Ryan. The House Majority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, called Ryan with very bad news. He had talked to Trump and felt that he was getting cold feet because he supported the spending package. The President had been following the cable news – mostly Fox – and was verbally abused. Another big bill for the bill without wallet money. That was the story Meadows and Jordan had worked up, and it worked: that's what the President heard and saw.
Then Ryan got a call from Trump himself and heard the bad news straight out of the President's mouth: Trump Ryan said he was beaten on cable TV, did not like it and rejected the expenditure plan.
Ryan had little patience for this type of bullshit. They have always suffered somewhere to make big decisions. Ryan was a right-wing favorite before becoming a spokesman and gave that up when he took the lead. That's exactly what the leaders are doing, thought Ryan. You take the flak and move on. In Ryan, Trump was never able to do that.
"It always works that way," Ryan told the president. He said a compromise bill to keep the government open would indeed anger the speakers on Fox News, but they would eventually get over it. The spokesman tried to explain to Trump that shutdown was not in his interests, but he did not make much progress. "There is no endgame," Ryan said as he stopped the government. "They will only help the Democrats."
"OK," said Trump. "Let's just talk in the morning." Ryan hung up the phone and felt a little better.
But at Capitol Hill Club, Meadows and Jordan caused a stir. This was the moment when they told the Republicans that the party should finally have the fight it had been waiting for for two years. Build the wall! Do you remember that? Jordan and Meadows did it. And they would hold on to Trump. Mulvaney, a Freedom Caucus man at heart, began to move in the club and threatened explicitly that the president could reject the package.
The next morning the entire GOP sounded like Meadows and Mulvaney. In a closed party congress, the Republicans of the house broke out in an uprising. It was immediately clear that Meadows' brush-fire had spread far and wide. The Republicans wanted to fight.
Ryan and McCarthy entered the meeting with what they considered to be a manageable goal: try convincing only half of GOP members to vote in favor of the Senate's bill. However, it was clear that the game had slipped off them. McCarthy told his colleagues that Trump's request for $ 5 billion wall funding could not happen, but they grunted and hissed at him.
When his Republicans raged, Ryan's phone rang. It was the president. Ryan stepped out of the meeting and into a small office next to the party's Capitol meeting room to pick up the call. It was as if his conversation with Trump had started from the previous night exactly where it left off: Trump told Ryan again that he would be killed on TV.
Again? Ryan was angry. He knew that Meadows had reached the president. Look, he said to Trump, "These are some Fox News people, these are some Freedom Caucus guys and that's it." Ryan wanted Trump to see the opposition was limited. "What's your endgame?" Ryan asked him again. "How do you get out of this? It's like shooting yourself in the foot.
Ryan tried to bring Trump to court to stop this fight until February 2019. He called on the president to sign the package and then spend the next two months on the case for an immigration deal that would trade DACA protection for a large border wall. He and McConnell had tried separately to tell Trump that Pelosi would have no influence on her takeover. But everything fell on deaf ears.
Ryan left with the President after 45 minutes, having made no progress. He did not bother going back to the meeting room.
Near the end of the meeting, Meadow's phone rang. The caller ID was "unavailable," so he knew it was the president. Trump told Meadows that he had talked to Ryan and felt it was just the Freedom Caucus – Ryan called them the "Freedom Guys" – who were against keeping the government open, not a wide range of Republicans. Meadows told the president that Ryan was not directly related to him.
So Trump asked Meadows and the Republican leadership to come to the White House, and asked the Freedom Caucus leader to bring 10 other Republicans with him. Trump wanted not just right-wing conservatives, but a group that was representative of the entire party. So Ryan and Meadows moved down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House.
At the meeting, Trump made no doubt about what he thought: If there is no border security, he said, I will not sign it. Of course, each bill had more than a billion dollars in border security, but not the billions it wanted for its wall. Throughout the entire meeting, Trump wavered between politics, politics and grievances. He still complained about the fact that Pelosi and Schumer doubted that the house could pass on the five billion dollars he wanted for his wall. He seemed to want the house to do so to prove it explicitly.
At the end of the meeting, one thing was clear: The President had teamed up with Meadows and Jordan, two members of Congress who had the Speaker of Parliament and the Senate Majority Leader. He would not sign the bill billions of dollars for his border wall. It was a stunning coda for two years. The government was brought to a standstill and nobody – including the president, Meadows and Jordan – had any idea how to reopen it.
Weeks later, after Ryan was right, and Trump had to reopen the government without getting anything back. Trump's anger against the Democrats reached a fever. The Shutdown, however, had revealed another big paradox of Donald John Trump's: he often boasted about how big the Republican was, but he always seemed to be seized by the other party and its leaders. He signed contracts with them, often predicting that he was willing to give up the principles that had chosen him to achieve the success of both parties before he was withdrawn from his party. Deep inside, Trump seemed to know that the Democrats had something the Republicans had, and most of all, he always tried to find unity.
"These are bad politicians, they are politically bad, they have the worst ideas in the world, but they stay together," Trump told the Democrats in late November, just weeks before the deadlock. "And the Republicans are not keeping up so well, okay? It is not a question. I respect them and say that to the Republicans. I say, "These people stay together. Even if it's bad, they stay together.
Adapted from THE HILL TO THE ON: The Battle for the Congress and the Future of Trump's America. Copyright © 2019 by Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer. Published by Crown, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.