President Donald Trump took to the White House Rose Garden Friday to outline his demands for a wall on the Mexican border amid a government shutdown that has hinged on the issue of border security.
Trump appeared with Vice President Mike Pence, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) who were part of a meeting with Democratic leaders opposed to giving Trump the $5.6 billion he says his administration needs to build a wall.
The president claimed that over 3,700 suspected terrorists attempted to cross into the U.S. through the southern border, making a secure border a top national security issue for the president. It wasn't clear what his source was for that statistic -- Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen later said that a similar number of people of interest, not necessarily terrorists, had been arrested.
"This is national security we're talking about. We're not talking about games, we're talking about national security," Trump said. "The southern border is a dangerous, harmful disaster."
Regarding the current shutdown, now in its third week with some 800,000 federal workers either furloughed or working without pay, Trump said he was optimistic.
"We had a very very productive meeting and I think we've come a long way," Trump told the crowd in the Rose Garden. "We are all on the same path in terms of wanting to get government open."
However, contradicting that statement during a Q&A session with reporters, Trump admitted that he told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) that he was prepared to let the government shutdown last for months or even years if he doesn't get the money he needs to bolster the southern border.
Trump did say that there was significant agreement between the two sides on plans of spending $400 million to expand ports of entry to increase the number of people the ports are able to intake.
Trump started off Friday's comments by lauding the December jobs numbers, saying that he thinks the jobs result has a lot to do with the factories and jobs being returned to the U.S. Trump also reiterated his claim that Mexico is paying for the border through his renegotiation of NAFTA.
"312,000 jobs was a tremendous number and obviously having a positive impact on the stock market today," Trump said while also lauding 3.2% wage growth with little inflation.