"President Trump has long said that keeping opponents off balance is the best way to win a negotiation," The Washington Post reports. "But nearly three weeks into a partial government shutdown, his usual playbook doesn't seem to be working. ... As he digs in against an emboldened Democratic opposition, Trump has found that his go-to arsenal of bluster, falsehoods, threats, and theatrics has laid bare his shortcomings as a negotiator." At this point, he has three options left.
1. Declare a national emergency, then victory, then blame the judges The "increasingly likely option" for Trump is to declare a national emergency and redirect Pentagon construction funds to build his wall, The Wall Street Journal reports. In this scenario, Trump would "agree to sign a spending bill and reopen the government" and "be able to tell supporters he did everything he could to build the wall." And "if the courts strike it down, then the president can blame the judiciary, something he's done before," Politico notes. "It will come to this," one White House official told the Journal. "The question is when."
2. Strike a deal A group of Republican senators huddled with Sen. Lindsey Graham's (R-S.C.) Wednesday to workshop a deal that would give Democrats immigration changes they want — like protecting DREAMers — in return for Trump's wall money, CNN reports. "GOP senators pitched the idea to senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, who said if they came up with a proposal that got Trump his border wall money and could pass the Senate, the White House would be open to more discussions on the matter."
3. Fold and spin "There is an increasing recognition in the White House" that congressional Democrats won't give Trump any wall money, Politico notes, and if he goes it on his own, they "can cut the money Trump uses to build the wall in next year's appropriations cycle." But there's nothing stopping the master brander from declaring victory of some sort, even if the government reopens without his wall. Peter Weber