Donald Trump was licking his wounds in the White House this weekend after some of his most enthusiastic supporters turned on him, calling him a “wimp” for backing down over the US government shutdown. In one of the biggest gambles of his presidency Mr Trump shut down large swathes of his own state apparatus for over a month in a high stakes game of poker with Democrats. The president was seeking agreement for $5.7 billion in funding for his border wall, but he ended up with nothing after succumbing to pressure to reopen the government. His opponent, Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat speaker of the House of Representatives, walked away with the plaudits. Her belief that voters would blame Mr Trump for the shutdown chaos was borne out in polls, some of which put Mr Trump’s approval rating eight points down since government departments closed their doors. While #TrumpCaved trended on Twitter, the New York Daily News called Mr Trump “Cave Man” on its front page. Trump caved. He announced he’s going to sign a wall-free temporary spending package to reopen the government.https://t.co/LN49mtlC6n An early look at Saturday’s front page… pic.twitter.com/UNHHPazZlp— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) January 25, 2019 Watching cable news in the East Wing, Mr Trump’s mood will have soured as some of his most fervent fans took him to task. Lou Dobbs, a high profile Fox Business Network host, declared: “She [Mrs Pelosi] has just whipped the president of the United States. I’m an animated, energetic supporter of this president. But you’ve got to call it as it is.” Ann Coulter, the conservative author of the 2016 bestseller In Trump We Trust, was even more scathing. She said: “Good news for George Herbert Walker Bush: As of today, he is no longer the biggest wimp ever to serve as President of the United States.” Ms Coulter added: “There’s no question but that Nancy Pelosi got the better of Donald Trump.” Ann Coulter Rips Trump Over Shutdown Deal: Bush Sr. ‘No Longer the Biggest Wimp’ to Serve as POTUS https://t.co/iTb8TDOirYpic.twitter.com/HJXOVorUcg— Mediaite (@Mediaite) January 25, 2019 Mark Meckler, a California-based conservative leader who helped found the tea party movement, called the president’s decision to sign off on a deal without wall funding “pathetic and disgusting.” Mr Trump badly damaged his credibility with grassroots conservatives across the country, Mr Meckler said. During the shutdown, he said he and other conservative leaders had been aggressively defending the president’s hardline approach. At the request of the White House, he said they made repeated media appearances, but they got no warning he was about to “surrender.” “No way would I go on the radio anytime again in the future and say ‘The president’ and ‘I believe,'” Mr Meckler said. “Certainly, he did not fulfill his promise to the base and I’m appalled. More importantly than me is what I’m hearing from the grassroots. They’re appalled.” “He brought his troops on the battlefield with an absolute promise. And then he walked away,” he said. I’m happy federal workers will be paid but @realDonaldTrump just allowed Nancy to walk all over him. It’s President Trump, not President Pelosi. Act like it. #BuildThatWall— Tomi Lahren (@TomiLahren) January 25, 2019 Breitbart, the conservative news website, showed a video of Mrs Pelosi dancing. In general, Americans had become exasperated by the 35-day shutdown which had left 800,000 government workers unpaid, including Nasa scientists, employees at major museums, and even Secret Service agents guarding the White House. Air traffic controllers stopped showing up for work, passengers were asking flight attendants if it was safe to fly, and the flight attendants said they weren’t sure. With 150,000 people flying into Atlanta for the Super Bowl on Feb 3 there were fears of a major accident. In Washington, the day before the shutdown ended, The Telegraph saw FBI employees arriving for free meals at a soup kitchen, not far from the White House. FBI agents said they were no longer able to pay confidential sources in terrorism and drug investigations. Volunteers distribute food at World Central Kitchen, a food bank for government workers established by celebrity chef Jose Andres in Washington Credit: AFP A lab technician from the Smithsonian was also at the soup kitchen, and warned about the effect of the shutdown on exhibits. And a court clerk, at Washington Superior Court. told The Telegraph: “I’m relying on my mother for help. If this goes on any longer I’ll lose my car. I’ve already missed a payment.” Mr Trump’s decision to end the shutdown also followed telephone calls from several frustrated Republican senators on Thursday night. Even as Mr Trump denied he had conceded White House officials admitted the president had been, at least temporarily, outfoxed by Mrs Pelosi, a wily Washington veteran. “Perhaps he lost the short term battle,” one official said. Another denied Mr Trump had “caved” and said he wanted to give negotiations another chance. Nancy Pelosi, Mr Trump’s nemesis, after signing the bill to reopen the government Credit: AP The government is now funded until Feb 15 and a “conference committee” of Republicans and Democrats in Congress will try to reach a compromise before then. If the stalemate continues until Feb 15 the government could shut down again. Mr Trump could also declare a national emergency, allowing him to use the Pentagon budget to build the wall. Democrats would immediately challenge that in court. Mr Trump emerged from the shutdown standoff politically wounded. An Associated Press poll showed his approval rating falling to 34 per cent from 42 per cent a month earlier. But he vowed to continue fighting for the wall. He wrote on Twitter: “21 days goes very quickly. Negotiations with Democrats will start immediately. Will not be easy to make a deal, both parties very dug in. The case for National Security has been greatly enhanced by what has been happening at the Border. We will build the Wall.” Mr Trump added that a new caravan of migrants, of “at least 8.000 people,” was forming in Central America. S&P; Global Ratings said the economic cost of the shutdown was probably “worse than what we had previously expected”. It said: “The US economy lost at least $6 billion, larger than the $5.7 billion that the White House requested for the border wall.” Michael Bloomberg, widely seen as a potential Democrat 2020 candidate, said: “It’s like the government version of a bad horror movie. Instead of Freddy Krueger and the ‘Nightmare on Elm Street,’ we’ve got Donald Trump and the ‘Nightmare at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue’.”
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