President Donald Trump spent Christmas Eve “all alone” in the White House railing on Twitter against just about everyone as financial markets plunged and the federal government shutdown appeared likely to stretch into January.
In a wild and misleading series of tweets on Monday, Trump lashed out at Democrats for opposing taxpayer funding for his proposed southern border wall ― which he repeatedly promised Mexico would pay for ― and said he was waiting at the White House for them to “come back and make a deal” on border security.
Most lawmakers have left town amid a stalemate on legislation to reopen the government, which partially shut down Saturday and forced hundreds of thousands of federal workers off the job. Democrats have ardently rejected Trump’s demands for $5 billion to build the wall, and anticipate more leverage once they take the House majority in January.
Even some top Republicans have become exasperated at Trump’s behavior. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the retiring Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, accused the president over the weekend of manufacturing the “juvenile” showdown so he “can look like he’s fighting” to please his core supporters.
Trump shot back at “Little Bob Corker,” his derisive nickname for the senator, on Monday, as well as Brett McGurk, the U.S. envoy in charge of defeating the Islamic State in the Middle East who announced he’s quitting over Trump’s abrupt decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria. Both men, Trump tweeted, were responsible for President Barack Obama’s “horrific” Iran nuclear deal that he terminated earlier this year.
And, as television news continued to focus on the extraordinary resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who also quit in protest of Trump’s Syria pullout, Trump sought to reassert his worldview that allies are taking unfair advantage of the U.S. and its taxpayers.
“General Mattis did not see this as a problem. I DO, and it is being fixed!” Trump tweeted on Monday, repeating his claim that the U.S. is “subsidizing” the militaries of other nations by remaining in Syria.
But what appeared to spook Wall Street most was Trump’s continuing tirade against Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, whom the president reportedly considered ousting over fed policy raising interest rates. After Trump bizarrely complained the Federal Reserve doesn’t “have a feel” for the markets and “is like a powerful golfer who can’t score because he has no touch” ― major indexes dove more than 2 percent in the worst Christmas Eve trading day ever, extending the worst plunge since the 2008 financial crisis.
The tech-heavy NASDAQ lost more than 5 percent, continuing a nosedive of more than 20 percent since its Aug. 29 peak.
Trump’s Treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, may have actually contributed to the mayhem. Mnuchin over the weekend announced he had called CEOs of major U.S. banks from his vacation in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and assured them the markets had “ample liquidity available for lending to consumer, business markets, and all other market operations.”
“It’s Christmas Eve and President Trump is plunging the country into chaos,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a joint statement on Monday. “The stock market is tanking and the president is waging a personal war on the Federal Reserve – after he just fired the Secretary of Defense.”
The Democratic leaders added that Trump is beholden to “right-wing radio and TV hosts” on the issue of the wall, and that “different people from the same White House are saying different things about what the president would accept or not,” making it impossible to negotiate.
“The president wanted the shutdown, but he seems not to know how to get himself out of it,” the Democratic leaders said. “As long as the president is guided by the House Freedom Caucus, it’s hard to see how he can come up with a solution that can pass both the House and Senate and end his Trump Shutdown.”
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), meanwhile, had a more pithy response to Trump’s grievances on Twitter.