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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

President Trump chastised his new chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, over his handling of shutdown talks, creating an awkward scene in front of congressional leaders of both parties, according to two sources who were present.

Behind the scenes: The encounter came near the end of a meeting in the White House Situation Room on Jan. 4, these sources said. Trump had spent the meeting restating his demand for $5.7 billion for his wall. (Vice President Pence, at Trump's behest, had previously asked the Democrats for just $2.5 billion.)

  • Mulvaney inserted himself into the conversation and tried to negotiate a compromise sum of money, according to the sources in the room. Mulvaney said "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," one of the sources said, paraphrasing Mulvaney's remarks.
  • "Trump cut him off ... 'You just fucked it all up, Mick,'" the source recalled Trump saying. "It was kind of weird."
  • Another source who was in the room confirmed the account. That source said their impression was that Trump was irritated at Mulvaney's negotiating style. "As a negotiator, Trump was resetting," the source said. "Mick was not reading the room or the president."
  • A White House official, who was in the room, responded to Axios' questions about the encounter: "This is an exaggerated account of the exchange that doesn't reflect the good relationship Mulvaney has built over the last two years with the president." (The official did not deny the quote we provided, but denied that it was as heated a moment as some in the room perceived it to be.)
  • The same WH official said, "The president and Mulvaney joked about it afterwards."

Between the lines: A fourth source, who was not in the room but has observed Mulvaney and Trump's interactions during previous congressional talks, told me Trump has long been irritated that Mulvaney's initial 2019 budget only requested $1.6 billion for the wall. Democrats relish pointing this out, asking the White House why they're not happy getting the money they originally asked for.

Why it matters: Trump’s willingness to humiliate his top staffer in front of Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi is another reminder — beyond Democratic unwillingness to fund a barrier — of why shutdown talks have made zero progress: Trump exhibits little regard for the credibility of his own deputies.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Senate Democrats reach deal on extending unemployment insurance

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Democrats struck a deal Friday evening to extend unemployment insurance in President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package after deliberating and halting other action for roughly nine hours, per a Senate aide.

Why it matters: The Senate can now resume voting on other amendments to the broader rescue bill.

Capitol review panel recommends more police, mobile fencing

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

A panel appointed by Congress to review security measures at the Capitol is recommending several changes, including mobile fencing and a bigger Capitol police force, to safeguard the area after a riotous mob breached the building on Jan. 6.

Why it matters: Law enforcement officials have warned there could be new plots to attack the area and target lawmakers, including during a speech President Biden is expected to give to a joint session of Congress.

Financial fallout from the Texas deep freeze

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Texas has thawed out after an Arctic freeze last month threw the state into a power crisis. But the financial turmoil from power grid shock is just starting to take shape.

Why it matters: In total, electricity companies are billions of dollars short on the post-storm payments they now owe to the state's grid operator. There's no clear path for how they will pay — something being watched closely across the country as extreme weather events become more common.

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