According to Axios, which broke the story Sunday citing sources present at the Jan. 4 meeting in the White House Situation Room, Trump was sticking to his asking price, but Mulvaney was willing to come down.
Describing the scene, one of the sources told Axios that Mulvaney had indicated “that if Dems weren’t OK with $5.7 [billion] and the president wasn’t OK with $1.3 [the Democratic offer] … he was trying to say we should find a middle ground.”
That reportedly sent the president into a fit, as he cut off Mulvaney, telling him, “You just fucked it all up, Mick.”
A CNN article also published Sunday told the same story, citing an official in the room who recalled Trump saying, “Stop, stop, just stop ― What are you doing? You’re fucking it all up, Mick.”
A Trump administration official told Axios the report was “an exaggerated account of the exchange that doesn’t reflect the good relationship Mulvaney has built over the last two years with the president.”
Mulvaney, who is also the director of the Office of Management and Budget, said last week that he didn’t think the partial federal government shutdown triggered by debate over the border wall will end any time soon. Now in its fourth week, it has become the longest shutdown in U.S. history.
While the official who spoke to Axios contended that Mulvaney had a positive rapport with the president, a 2015 radio interview resurfaced by CNN’s KFile showed that Mulvaney once called Trump’s position on the wall “absurd and almost childish.”
Furthermore, in 2016, The State, a South Carolina newspaper, reported that in the run-up to Election Day, Mulvaney said he was supporting Trump “despite the fact that I think he’s a terrible human being.”