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Donald Trump knows his primetime speech and border trip are totally pointless

The New York Times has a Trump speech anecdote to make you laugh, cry.

President Donald Trump gives a primetime address about border security.
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
Dylan Scott covers health care for Vox. He has reported on health policy for more than 10 years, writing for Governing magazine, Talking Points Memo and STAT before joining Vox in 2017.

President Trump’s speech to the nation Tuesday was short, his delivery was bland, and he didn’t really say anything he hadn’t said before in defense of his Mexican border wall. It certainly didn’t seem likely to change the debate over the government shutdown, given how the Democrats responded.

Even Trump apparently knew how pointless this whole exercise was. The New York Times’s Peter Baker, chronicler of presidents, dropped this gem into an article not long after Trump finished talking: The president didn’t even want to give that speech and he doesn’t want to go on his upcoming trip to the Mexican border. He thinks it’s useless.

From Baker (emphasis mine):

Privately, Mr. Trump dismissed his own new strategy as pointless. In an off-the-record lunch with television anchors hours before the address, he made clear in blunt terms that he was not inclined to give the speech or go to Texas, but was talked into it by advisers, according to two people briefed on the discussion who asked not to be identified sharing details.

“It’s not going to change a damn thing, but I’m still doing it,” Mr. Trump said of the trip to the border, according to one of the people, who was in the room. The border trip was just a photo opportunity, he said. “But,” he added, gesturing at his communications aides, Bill Shine, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Kellyanne Conway, “these people behind you say it’s worth it.”

Axios’s Jonathan Swan confirmed the Times’s reporting.

But the trip to the border is still on, as of Wednesday morning. First, Democratic and Republican leaders are heading to the White House on Wednesday for yet another meeting about how to end the shutdown. The impasse is in its third week, with thousands of federal workers about to miss their paychecks in the coming days.