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Sanders says Trump looking to agencies to fund wall

White House may try to avoid gov't shutdown

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders delivered a press briefing Tuesday afternoon, as President Trump and Congress negotiate over a partial government funding bill with just a few days before the government runs out of funding for several major departments. Sanders said in an interview with Fox News Tuesday morning that administration does not want to shut down the government over funding for a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, contradicting comments by Mr. Trump last week.

Sanders said that the president has asked every executive agency to look for funding for a potential border wall if Democrats do not agree to provide enough funding in a spending bill. She said that the White House was "disappointed" that the Senate had not yet passed a funding bill.

"At this point, the senate has thrown out a lot of ideas. We're disappointed in the fact that they've yet to actually vote on something and pass something. So when they do that, we'll make a determination on whether or not we're going to sign that," Sanders said.

Sanders departed the briefing room after only ten minutes, angering reporters. "This is your job, Sarah!" one reporter shouted as she left the room. Sanders' last press briefing was in November.

Funding for several agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, runs out Dec. 21. Mr. Trump has requested $5 billion for a border wall, but Congressional Democrats say they would only vote for a bill which would grant $1.6 billion for border security.

In an Oval Office meeting with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, Mr. Trump said that he was "proud to shut down the government for border security." However, Sanders said on Fox News Tuesday that the White House had been in communication with House and Senate members on both sides of the aisle, and that there are "other ways that we can get to that $5 billion" for wall funding.

"There is certainly a number of different funding sources that we've identified that we can use that we can couple with the money would that be given through congressional appropriations that would help us get to the $5 billion the president needs in order to protect our borders," Sanders said.

Sanders delivered a press briefing as former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn appeard in court to be sentenced for lying to the FBI about conversations he had with Russian Envoy Sergey Kislyak. The sentencing was delayed, after his lawyers took up Judge Emmet Sullivan on his repeated offers to do so. The delay will now give Flynn the opportunity to cooperate further with the government.

Mr. Trump tweeted about Flynn's sentencing Tuesday: "Good luck today in court to General Michael Flynn. Will be interesting to see what he has to say, despite tremendous pressure being put on him, about Russian Collusion in our great and, obviously, highly successful political campaign. There was no Collusion!"

Sanders reiterated the administration's support for Flynn, and said that Flynn's sentencing was a matter for the judge. She said that Flynn's lies to the FBI had nothing to do with Mr. Trump, even though the Flynn lied to the FBI while in the White House.

"The actions he engaged in had nothing to do with the president," Sanders said, even though the interview was within the White House. She also condemned the FBI for not informing Flynn that it was illegal to lie to the FBI before they interviewed him.

Sanders said of Mr. Trump's tweet Tuesday morning that "it is perfectly acceptable to make a positive comment" about Flynn ahead of sentencing.

The special counsel's office has recommended that Flynn receive zero to six months of incarceration due to his "substantial assistance" in the investigation.

Sanders also responded a tweet by Mr. Trump Tuesday morning recommending that the Federal Reserve not raise interest rates, saying that it was not a direct order to an independent agency.

"He's the president of the United States and not only does he have the ability to give his opinion, he should give his opinion," Sanders said.

New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood announced Tuesday that Mr. Trump has agreed to shut down his family's embattled Trump Foundation, following investigators' allegations the charity misused funds by directing them to Mr. Trump or his businesses. The attorney general will review and approve the process, including approving the charities slated to receive the foundation's remaining assets.

Sanders did not discuss the announcement on the Trump Foundation, referring to the Trump organization.

The Trump administration also announced on Tuesday that it is banning bump stocks, which make it easier to fire rounds from a semi-automatic weapon to "bump" the trigger faster, by rolling out a regulation amending the law and definition of illegal machine guns to include bump stocks.

Kathryn Watson contributed reporting.

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