Trump rejects plan to allow government to reopen temporarily while talks continue

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump said Monday that he rejected a suggestion by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., that he allow the government to temporarily reopen while continuing negotiations with Congress over funds for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

"I did reject it," Trump told reporters as he prepared to leave the White House en route to an event in New Orleans. "I want to get it solved. I don't want to just delay it."

His comments came on the 24th day of a partial government shutdown with no clear path forward for Trump and congressional Democrats, who have steadfastly resisted the president's demands for $5.7 billion to fund his long-promised wall.

Last week, Trump floated the ideal of declaring a national emergency, a strategy that could allow him to bypass Congress and direct the military to start construction of the wall.

On Monday, Trump said he is still not prepared to go that route.

"I'm not looking to call a national emergency," Trump said. "This is so simple you shouldn't have to."

During a television appearance on Sunday, Graham, a Trump ally on most issues, suggested reopening the government for a few weeks and continuing to discuss border security.

If talks do not bear fruit, Graham said, the president could consider following through on his idea of calling a national emergency.

"I would urge him to open up the government for a short period of time, like three weeks, before he pulls the plug," Graham said on "Fox News Sunday." "See if we can get a deal. If we can't at the end of three weeks, all bets are off. See if he can do it by himself through the emergency powers."

On Monday, Democrats issued fresh calls for Trump to allow the quarter of the government that has been shuttered to reopen.

"Why won't President Trump open the government while we continue to negotiate?" Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., wrote on Twitter. "Because he thinks it's okay to use Americans' lives, livelihoods, paychecks, and families as 'leverage' for his wall. Stop hurting Americans and open the government now, @realDonaldTrump."

Schumer attached to his tweet a video compilation of news reports on the negative impacts of the shutdown.

Speaking to reporters Monday, Trump continued to try to blame Democrats for the impasse.

"We're talking about border security. Who can be against it?" he said. "We have drugs, we have criminals, we have gangs, and the Democrats don't want to do anything about it."

"The Democrats are stopping us, and they're stopping a lot of great people from getting paid," Trump added, referring to the roughly 800,000 federal workers who missed a paycheck on Friday.

In his remarks, Trump also took aim at roughly 30 lawmakers who are attending a convention in Puerto Rico organized by the political action committee of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

"I've been here all weekend," Trump said. "A lot of the Democrats were in Puerto Rico celebrating something. I don't know, maybe they're celebrating the shutdown."

"The Democrats have to do something," Trump added. "We need their votes. Otherwise we can't solve it without their votes. They now control the House. Let's see if they can lead. I don't know that they can lead, but we're going to soon find out."

Trump also flatly denied that he worked for Russia, and he called FBI officials who launched a counterintelligence investigation to determine whether he did “known scoundrels” and “dirty cops.”

Trump’s comments came in response to reports that an FBI investigation that was opened after Trump fired then-Director James B. Comey in May 2017 included a component to determine whether the president was seeking to help Russia.

"I never worked for Russia," Trump said as he prepared to leave for an event in New Orleans, adding: "I think it's a disgrace that you even asked that question. . . . It's a big fat hoax."

During a television appearance Saturday night, after the counterintelligence component of the Trump investigation was first reported by The New York Times, Trump called a question whether he had ever worked for Russia "insulting" but did not directly answer it.

On Monday, he did not equivocate and also attacked Comey and others in the FBI responsible for the investigation of possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential campaign.

That investigation is being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller, who was appointed after Trump fired Comey.

"He was a bad cop and he was a dirty cop," Trump said of Comey.

The president also attacked former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe as a "liar." McCabe made the decision to open the counterintelligence component of the investigation of Trump.

Speaking more broadly of FBI leadership at the time, Trump used the terms "known scoundrels" and "dirty cops."

Trump and Comey have sparred repeatedly, particularly since the release of a book last year by Comey that describes Trump's presidency as a "forest fire" and portrays the president as an ego-driven congenital liar.

McCabe was fired last year, and a grand jury is weighing possible charges against him for allegedly misleading investigators in a leak probe.

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The Washington Post’s Devlin Barrett and Felicia Sonmez contributed to this report.