With his baseless claim that "many" federal workers support the government shutdown quickly falling apart in the face of objections from public employees themselves, President Donald Trump suddenly shifted ground in a tweet Thursday morning, declaring—also without any evidence—that "most of the people not getting paid are Democrats."
"Need to stop drugs, human trafficking, gang members, and criminals from coming into our country," Trump wrote as the government shutdown over his demand for $5 billion in border wall funding continued into its sixth day. "Do the Dems realize that most of the people not getting paid are Democrats?"
Have the Democrats finally realized that we desperately need Border Security and a Wall on the Southern Border. Need to stop Drugs, Human Trafficking,Gang Members & Criminals from coming into our Country. Do the Dems realize that most of the people not getting paid are Democrats?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 27, 2018
"At best, it looks like Trump is willing to keep the shutdown going because he believes it won't hurt the people who vote for him," Rafi Schwartz of Splinter News wrote. "At worst, it looks like the president of the United States—who unambiguously declared that he would 100 percent own this shutdown—is admitting that he's deliberately punishing 'most of the people not getting paid' purely as an act of political retribution."
Trump's tweet came as federal workers who are already living paycheck to paycheck took to social media to share how the government shutdown has impacted them and their families, particularly during the holiday season.
"I've been a loyal, dedicated federal employee for almost 30 years. I love my work. I may have to terminate my husband's caregiver because it's so expensive, it'll rip through any savings we have very quickly," wrote one Twitter user. "I'm beside myself with worry this Christmas."
Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office on Christmas day, Trump claimed that "many" federal employees are urging him to keep the government shut down until his demands are met because they "want the wall."
"They understand what's happening. They want border security," Trump said, without any evidence. "Many of those workers have said to me, communicated, 'stay out until you get the funding for the wall.'"
In response to Trump's remarks, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE)—a union that represents thousands of federal workers who have been affected by the ongoing shutdown—said in a statement on Wednesday that it has "not heard from a single member who supports the president's inaction."
"Most view this as an act of ineptitude," said IFPTE president Paul Shearon. "If the president wants to gamble, perhaps he should go back to running casinos. Gambling with the lives of federal workers is not acceptable."