Donald Trump used the first Oval Office address of his presidency to raise the fear of illegal immigration, to repeat dubious claims across his boundary wall, and not to offer new solutions for partial closure by the government.
In the kind of TV moment that he enjoys, Trump accused the criminal gangs and "huge amounts of illegal drugs" for "thousands of deaths" and accused Democrats that they have not ended the shutdown, now on his 19th day.
Democrats of the highest congress accused him of anxiety and the use of rhetoric "full of misinformation and even malice".
"This is a humanitarian crisis – a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul," Trump told primetime viewers on Tuesday evening and described the situation at the border. He argued that the current immigration system allows "cruel coyotes and ruthless gangs" to fall prey to immigrants, especially women and children.
The Oval Office is usually a projection of power used by presidents before him to deal with the nation in times of crisis or tragedy. In comments that lasted 10 minutes, Trump tried to argue the case for a boundary wall – perhaps the central promise of his short political career – and tried to imply the proposal with broad public support.
"Law enforcement experts have asked for $ 5.7 billion for a physical barrier," he said. "At the request of the Democrats, it will be a steel barrier rather than a concrete wall, which is absolutely crucial for border security, and is what our professionals want and need at the border.
"This is just common sense, the boundary wall would pay for itself quickly – the costs of illegal drugs are more than $ 500 billion a year, much more than the $ 5.7 billion we have requested from Congress. are paid for by the great new trade agreement that we have signed with Mexico. & # 39;
Fact checkers have argued that Trump's trade agreement, a successor to Nafta, means that Mexico pays for the wall, has shown contempt. The Mexican government has always refused to do this. And after reading the address, critics quickly indicated that Democrats are against money for a boundary wall – whether they are steel or concrete.
Almost three weeks after the closure, Trump offered no new ideas to break the current political stalemate and declared no national state of emergency so that he could circumvent Congress, as had been speculated. Instead, he said: "The federal government will remain closed for one reason and only one reason: because Democrats will not finance border security."
Calling Democrats to pass a spending account, he added: "This situation can be resolved in a three-quarters' meeting, and hopefully we can rise above biased politics to support national security."
During an extraordinary night in American politics, the home speaker, Nancy Pelosi and the minority leader of the Senate, Chuck Schumer, gave a live reply to the balcony corridor of the House of Representatives. Both are tough against the construction of a wall and have urged Trump to reopen the government while the talks are being continued.
"Unfortunately, much of what we heard from President Trump during this senseless shutdown is full of misinformation and even malice," said Pelosi. "President Trump must stop the American people from taking hostage, stop producing a crisis and reopen the government."
Schumer added, "We do not rule by tantrum, no president is allowed to bang on the table and demand that he get his way, otherwise the government will shut itself off, putting millions of Americans at a disadvantage.
"Tonight – and during this debate and his presidency – President Trump has appealed to fear, not facts, division, no unity."
The New York Senator said, "Most presidents used Oval Office addresses for noble purposes, and the president used the Oval Office's background to create a crisis, create fear, and divert attention from the turmoil. in his administration. & # 39;
The White House opposed those points on Wednesday by accusing Democrats of being in denial.
"He is fighting for the protection and safety of every American citizen," said Sarah Sanders, press officer of the White House. "If this is the face and the future of the Democratic Party, I think it looks good for Republicans."
Trump has personally rejected the address to the nation and his proposed visit to the border this week as senseless, according to the New York Times. In an off-the-record lunch with television anchors on Tuesday, he said he was spoken by advisers in both steps.
In the run-up to the address, the White House was caught in a series of untruths. On the weekend Sanders claimed that 4,000 known or suspected terrorists had been arrested at the southern border. On Monday, Kellyanne Conway, the White House counselor, admitted that this was "an unfortunate deviation" since most people had stopped at airports.
Meanwhile, Pence was questioned by NBC News Monday about Trump's claim that some former presidents had told him that a wall had to be built (all four presidents refused). The vice-president replied: "I know the president said that this was his impression of previous administrations, previous presidents."
The president, who has threatened to keep the government closed for months or even years, will attend a Senate Republican lunch meeting on Wednesday and then visit the southern border on Thursday while continuing a public relations offensive. The partial closure by the government is now the second longest in history, affecting more than 800,000 employees and there is no end in sight.
On Tuesday evening, the right groups of immigrants again condemned Trump's message. Lorella Praeli, the deputy political director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said: "With tonight's speech, President Trump chose to reinforce chaos because he can not convince the majority of Americans that their taxpayer's dollars promise his false campaign. must pay .. The president seems to be more focused on obtaining his xenophobic symbol than governing the government and maintaining democratic standards. & # 39;