President Trump has spent much of his time since parts of the federal government ran out of funding on Friday managing the effects of the shutdown on his administration, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Monday.
"He is focused on managing the shutdown. That's the biggest part of the process that he plays at this point," Sanders told reporters at the White House.
She said Trump has divided his focus between brokering negotiations that could lead to a spending deal and coordinating with his Cabinet to ensure the shutdown inflicts as little pain as possible. Like budget director Mick Mulvaney, Sanders accused the Obama administration of deliberately exacerbating the negative effects of the last government shutdown in 2013.
"One is encouraging members to do the right thing and reopen our government. The other part is to manage the pieces. That's his job as the president of the United States, is to look for every way he can to mitigate the damage that the Democrats are doing through this shutdown," Sanders said of what Trump has been doing since the shutdown occurred.
"He's taking the absolute opposite approach that you saw from the previous administration, where they frankly tried to weaponize the shutdown," she added. "They put out signs, they closed memorials, they did things that were totally unnecessary for the purpose of trying to score political points."
Trump has "spent a lot of time" talking to Mulvaney and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen about how to navigate the shutdown, in addition to other Cabinet secretaries, Sanders noted.
"He's having regular calls from [legislative director] Marc Short, Mick Mulvaney, chief of staff [John] Kelly, Cabinet secretaries who are working within their various agencies and how this impacts them. Several of them have talked to members, as well as a number of other staffers," Sanders said of who has helped Trump manage the shutdown from the White House.
Trump and other administration officials have said they will not negotiate an immigration deal until Congress votes to restore government funding. Senate Democrats largely withheld their votes from a stopgap spending bill on Friday because the legislation did not include the protections for young, undocumented immigrants that they had attempted to attach to the spending deal.
Sanders said Trump has monitored negotiations on Capitol Hill through updates from his staff, not from watching the news.
"Well I think the most accurate thing, as you know — I wouldn't probably recommend using the news as his number one source — would be talking to his people who are leading the effort on this front for the administration," she said.