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Trump says shutdown will continue until his border wall demand is met

Trump talks shutdown, economy, Russia probe

Washington — As the government remains partially closed through the holidays, President Trump said the impasse in budget negotiations will continue until his $5 billion demand for border wall funding is met. He spoke to reporters in the Oval Office on Christmas morning.

"I can't tell you when the government is going to reopen," Mr. Trump said after hosting a video conference call with U.S. troops stationed overseas to thank them for their service. "I can tell you it's not going to reopen until we have a wall, a fence, whatever they'd like to call it. I'll call it whatever they want, but it's all the same thing." 

Asked about the hundreds of thousands of federal employees working without pay or furloughed during the shutdown, the president said workers want the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.  "I think they understand what's happening. They want border security. The people of this country want border security," he said, adding, "The only ones who don't are Democrats." 

A CBS News poll conducted in mid-November found 59 percent of Americans oppose building a border wall.

Mr. Trump again accused Democrats of not supporting funds for a border wall only because he made the issue an integral theme of his campaign and White House agenda. "As soon as I said they want to build the wall, they were all against it," he said. 

The president also lamented canceling his holiday trip to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida as the government remains partially closed.

He told reporters he continues to have confidence in Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, despite a recent downturn in the stock market, calling Mnuchin a "very talented guy." Mnuchin convened a call with leaders of the nation's largest banks on Monday to shore up confidence in the U.S. economy, but the gesture instead seemed to deepen the anxiety of many investors.

The president doubled down on his criticism of the Federal Reserve and said the institution is "raising interest rates too fast." Mr. Trump has publicly expressed regrets about appointing Jerome Powell as Fed chairman, but Mnuchin said on Saturday night that the president will not fire Powell — a move scholars believe may not pass legal muster.    

Concluding the Christmas Day question-and-answer session, Mr. Trump told reporters he expects to be the target of "presidential harassment" once Democrats take control of the House of Representatives in January. But he again denied any coordination between his presidential campaign and the Russian government during the 2016 election. 

"There's been no collusion, after two years, no collusion," he said. 

Sara Cook contributed to this report. 

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