WATCH: Trump’s Christmas Address: President Calls Democrats’ Refusal to Fund Border Wall a ‘Disgrace’; Says Federal Workers Are Happy to Work for Free

President Trump spoke from the Oval Office to members of the military stationed in Guam, Bahrain, Qatar and Alaska on Christmas Day. (Credit: Al Drago for The New York Times)
President Trump spoke from the Oval Office to members of the military stationed in Guam, Bahrain, Qatar and Alaska on Christmas Day. (Credit: Al Drago for The New York Times)

President Trump invited reporters into the Oval Office on Christmas morning to listen to him call military troops overseas. He then unleashed another demand for a border wall — a $5 billion price tag that has stalled the federal government through the holidays — and introduced a murky new claim that federal workers are happy to work for free until the wall is fully funded.

“Many of those workers have said to me — communicated — stay out until you get the funding for the wall,” Mr. Trump said. “These federal workers want the wall.”

Mr. Trump described immigrants as criminals and human traffickers, and espoused plans for his wall. But he declined to answer questions that invited him to be more specific, especially on a contract he said was signed Monday to begin construction on a lengthy section of the barrier.

Later Tuesday, the White House had no comment about a Border Patrol announcement that an 8-year-old Guatemalan boy had died in custody early on Christmas morning, raising new questions about the administration’s zero-tolerance policies on detained migrants.

When asked about the living circumstances of the boy who died in custody, a White House spokesman called the death very sad, but officials declined further comment. When reached for comment about the situation, a Department of Homeland Security spokesman pointed to a public release on its website.

Mr. Trump, in the Oval Office session, offered no indication of when he thought the partial government shutdown might end.

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SOURCE: Katie Rogers and Emily Cochrane
The New York Times