January 3, 2019

Dick Durbin was in the room where it happened yesterday, and he spoke with CNN's John Berman this morning.

"CNN is reporting that the president told Senator Schumer that he felt he would look foolish if he supported the Democrats' plans to reopen most of the government while you discussed border security over the next month. He was afraid he would look foolish. What did you take him to mean there?" Berman said.

(Well, John, he's afraid Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh will be mean to him again!)

"The president has made the decision that, despite his responsibility to manage and lead this government, he would rather shut it down and hold hostage for his beloved wall. That wall the Mexicans were supposed to pay for, remember? Most people who work in his agency don't list this as even the highest priority. What they want to see are the technology and personnel for border security, which Democrats are more than happy to support," Durbin said.

"So when he said he would look foolish, as the negotiator, and you are on the other side of the table now, is there something that you can give that would make him look less foolish?"

(John, this man is always going to "look foolish.")

"That, of course, is what we're searching for, but we are not going to compromise on the basics," Durbin said. "And the basics are we are offering $1.3 billion for border security, an amount debated back and forth among Democrats and Republicans in a Republican congress and came forward. We said to the president, 'let's move forward. Let's open the government.' We offered to him take eight federal agencies and departments currently closed down and we will accept the Republican-passed appropriation bills, the spending bills the Republicans asked for to open those agencies. Don't hold them hostage. The president refused."

Berman played a clip of Brave Sir Lindsey.

GRAHAM: If he gives in now, that's the end of 2019 in terms of him being an effective president. That's probably the end of his presidency. Donald Trump has made a promise to the American people.

"Do you see it that way?" he asked Durbin.

"I can tell you this. 75% of the American people say we should not shut down the government over the wall. So if this president is trying to find a way to lengthen his tenure or popularity in office, it isn't with this tactic. This is a ham-handed approach. He should be using his own people around him and others to counsel for some compromise good for America," Durbin said.

Durbin pointed out that one of our biggest threats comes through ports of entry: the national drug epidemic.

"Eighty percent of the drugs come in through ports of entry and fewer than one of five vehicles are being scanned to see if they have drugs or even victims of human trafficking. I'll invest money to see that those ports of entry stop narcotics," he said.

"When I hear you saying that, though, I don't hear you ruling out the possibility of new fencing. Maybe if he even started calling this a barrier and stopped using wall, there might be some progress here," Berman said.

"Well, it could be. It could be a matter of word," Durbin said. But at this point who cares if the government is shut down? Open the government you were elected to manage and serve. Make sure the people of the United States are going to be provided with the services that are fundamental, and stop penalizing these federal employees."

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