- The Washington Times - Monday, January 22, 2018

The government shutdown crisis subsided Monday but left a massive trust gap in its wake, with President Trump increasingly suspicious he’ll be double-crossed in negotiations with Senate Democrats.

The feeling was mutual.

Marc Short, the president’s director of legislative affairs, acknowledged that Mr. Trump’s trust appeared to be “deteriorating” after getting burned repeatedly by Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin.

Asked by The Washington Times whether the president can trust Democrats at this point, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders replied, “I wouldn’t say it’s the highest level of trust.”

The president remained hopeful that in the upcoming debate over immigration and border security Democrat leaders would “come to the table ready to actually make a deal and less focused on playing political games,” she said.

Still, the cloud of distrust hovered over White House negotiations with congressional Democrats on the broader agenda items such as the budget and infrastructure spending.

In the past two weeks, both Mr. Durbin and Mr. Schumer emerged from separate private meetings with Mr. Trump and disclosed details aimed at embarrassing or discrediting the president. It upended talks to avoid a government shutdown and cut an amnesty deal for illegal immigrant “Dreamers.”

Mr. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, claimed the president called Haiti, El Salvador and several African countries “sh — thole counties,” spurring a new round of charges that Mr. Trump is a racist.

“I’ve lost all trust in Durbin,” Mr. Trump said in an interview Wednesday with Reuters.

Three days later, Mr. Schumer came out of failed talks to avoid a shutdown describing the president as erratic and misinformed, and saying that it was “like negotiating with Jell-O.”

The White House rejected the accounts of Mr. Schumer and Mr. Durbin.

Mr. Schumer insisted that it is the president who cannot be trusted.

The crux of the New York Democrats’ claim that Mr. Trump caused the three-day shutdown was that the president was an unreliable and dishonest negotiator.

“The reason the Republican majority had such difficulty finding consensus is that they could never get a firm grip on what the president of their party wanted to do,” he said on the Senate floor when announcing a deal to end the Democrat’s filibuster and reopen the government.

Mr. Schumer accused the president of turning down a “generous offer” to provide all the funding he wants for a border wall in exchange for amnesty for Dreamers, illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.

Then he accused Mr. Trump of being MIA during weekend talks to end the shutdown after Senate Democrats filibustered a spending bill to keep the government open.

“Since our meeting in the Oval Office on Friday, the President and I have not spoken, and the White House refused to engage in negotiations over the weekend,” Mr. Schumer said on the Senate floor. “The great deal-making President sat on the sidelines.”

The White House described the president as managing the shutdown and conferring with Republican leaders over the weekend, though negotiations with Mr. Schumer ceased.

Mr. Short, the president’ legislative director, said the mistrust ran so deep that it was difficult to say unequivocally what Mr. Schumer had offered in the way of funding for a border wall, which the administration says will cost about $18 billion.

“One of our challenges continues to be the definitions of authorizing and appropriating. I think that’s part of the confusion that continues to exist,” he said. “What we don’t want to do is find ourselves in the same position that we’ve been in before where there is a large group of people voting for the 2006 Secure Fence Act that authorities some future thing that never ever happens.”

Schumer spokesman Matt House said the offer was for “significant appropriations,” but would not reveal the amount of money involved.

A significant appropriation could refer to the roughly $1.6 billion appropriation for a single year of construction that Mr. Trump rejected in an earlier proposal.

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