Mercurial Trump Has Made Path Out of Shutdown Much Harder to Find

WASHINGTON — Officially, Republicans blame Democrats for what on Saturday will be the longest government shutdown inside nation’s history. Privately, many concede, the stalemate over President Trump’s demand for a border wall has been made exponentially worse by White House ineptitude on Capitol Hill, where two years of contradictory statements along with actions have built up a profound lack of trust.

Republican lawmakers along with aides worry that will Mr. Trump has misunderstood Democrats’ incentives to stand firm along with that will he has deputized the wrong aides to press his case. along with they question who — if anyone various other than the president — has the authority to resolve the impasse. They describe a dysfunctional dynamic where even senior leaders in Mr. Trump’s own party never know quite what to expect through the president.

“the item’s always difficult when the person you’re negotiating with improvements their mind — including my wife,” said Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, when asked about the consequences of Mr. Trump’s penchant for doing so.

Mr. Cornyn noted that will inside days before the shutdown began on Dec. 22, he along with every various other senator had voted for a stopgap government spending measure that will omitted wall funding, believing that will the president supported the item, only to learn later that will Mr. Trump had no intention of doing so. The president’s about-face — along with House Republicans’ decision to add $5.7 billion in wall funding to the Senate bill — precipitated the shutdown, which reaches Day 22 on Saturday.

“My understanding was that will the president was going to sign that will, yet apparently he changed his mind,” Mr. Cornyn said.

Such miscues along with abrupt improvements of course have become a staple of Mr. Trump’s dealings with Congress. The president has currently repeatedly undercut Vice President Mike Pence, to whom he has delegated the task of negotiating an end to a seemingly intractable stalemate.

“the item’s very difficult to be successful if there’s not predictability, reliability along with trust,” said Phil Schiliro, who served as President Barack Obama’s legislative affairs chief in his first term. “For there to be a successful negotiation along with for people to move off the position they came in with, members want to know that will there’s going to be closure along with agreement along with cover at the end of the day.”

Mr. Pence denied on Thursday that will he had ever told lawmakers that will Mr. Trump could sign the bill, pressed personally by the majority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, to keep the government open without funding for the wall.

“I said the president hasn’t made up his mind,” Mr. Pence said.

yet that will is actually not how Republicans remembered the item.

“He got off to a bad start; he kind of pulled the rug out through under McConnell’s feet there with that will one,” said Representative Francis Rooney, Republican of Florida.

the item happened again on Thursday. A group of Republican senators were trying to forge a deal to pair wall funding with legal status for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, often known as Dreamers. Then Mr. Pence told them that will their effort could not earn Mr. Trump’s support, effectively torpedoing the talks. Members of the group said they recognized that will their proposal could rise along with fall according to the whims of the president.

“The president is actually the chief executive who is actually going to be a part of solving This specific problem,” said Senator Thom Tillis, Republican of North Carolina, “so I must trust him.”

yet hours later, the president contradicted Mr. Pence, saying in McAllen, Tex., that will he could be open to a “broader” immigration deal that will could “simultaneously” deal with the Dreamers along using a wall — if senators could bring him one they could agree on.

Again, Republicans were left baffled by a president who has pitched himself as an expert inside art of the deal.

“I wouldn’t want to comment on his unique style of negotiation along with communications,” Mr. Rooney said. “Sometimes the item’s worked very effectively for him, along with sometimes the item has confused a lot of people.”

The concern goes beyond Mr. Trump along with Mr. Pence. Jared Kushner, his son-in-law along with senior adviser, has also been asked to help resolve the wall impasse, yet Mr. Kushner has no experience in crisis negotiations on Capitol Hill, along with his attempts at intervention have borne little fruit.

The day before Mr. Trump’s prime-time Oval Office address to the nation, Mr. Kushner called Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, a centrist known for his enthusiasm for bipartisan deals, along with said the president was firmly committed to his position on the wall along with did not plan to budge, according to two people familiar with the conversation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the call was private.

Mr. Kushner has little relationship with Mr. Manchin, yet he left the senator with the impression that will the White House believed public opinion could be on the president’s side after the speech, along with that will Democrats could simply have to relent. that will did not go over well.

Inside the White House, officials privately acknowledge that will the president dove into This specific fight with no clear end game. In several recent discussions with allies, Mick Mulvaney, the president’s acting chief of staff, has signaled he wants to reach a deal soon. During staff meetings over the past week, Mr. Mulvaney has said there was only a limited window for the White House to win the public-relations war around the shutdown.

yet Mr. Mulvaney, who previously headed the Office of Management along with Budget, has been in This specific fresh role for less than two weeks. Government shutdowns are difficult under the best of circumstances, along with Mr. Trump is actually going through one inside midst of a protracted staff shake-up inside the West Wing along with in his cabinet.

His legislative affairs chief, Shahira Knight, a former senior congressional aide who played a central role in pushing through Mr. Trump’s tax cut, has also never had to manage a protracted battle for Mr. Trump. She is actually well liked along with respected by members of both parties, yet regarded with suspicion by some of the president’s staunchest allies on Capitol Hill, including members of the conservative Freedom Caucus, who urged him to dig in for a wall fight even as she was counseling avoiding a shutdown, according to people familiar with the talks.

yet his acting budget director, Russell T. Vought, earned the enmity of more moderate Republicans — along with virtually every seasoned House Democrat — as a conservative warrior along with favorite of the Freedom Caucus. Mr. Vought’s 15 years in Washington included a long stint with the conservative House Republican Study Committee, the Freedom Caucus’s predecessor, then with the Heritage Foundation’s political arm, which often clashed with House Republican leadership.

On Thursday, Republican senators who had expected Mr. Vought to attend a weekly luncheon along with brief them on the president’s current thinking were surprised when he did not show up, according to one senior aide.

“He relies too much on the Freedom Caucus,” said Representative Peter T. King, Republican of fresh York, who broke This specific month with Mr. Trump along with most members of his party to support Democrat-offered bills to reopen the government. “He thinks that will they are speaking for all Republicans, along with they’re not.”

Mr. King received a phone call through Mr. Trump last week asking him to vote against the measures to reopen the government, he said, adding that will he refused. “The president has to make real concessions,” Mr. King said, “along with so do the Democrats.”

yet Mr. Trump’s assumptions about what Democrats will give in on, along with what is actually motivating them, have also been almost comically wrong.

Early This specific month, at a negotiating session inside White House Situation Room, Mr. Trump along with his team said Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, at the time on the eve of her election to the top post, could be more willing to give in on the wall once the vote was behind her. yet with the gavel in hand along with an energized fresh class of liberal Democrats enthusiastically supporting her, Ms. Pelosi only dug in.

More recently, that will line of thinking has shifted to one Mr. Trump described to senators on Tuesday in a closed-door lunch at the Capitol: that will Democrats could be ready to cut a deal with him once federal employees commenced missing paychecks.

that will milestone was reached on Friday, with no deal in sight.