FACT CHECK: Did Trump Say, ‘A Shutdown Means The President Is Weak’?

Shane Devine | Fact Check Reporter

An image posted Jan. 14 by the Facebook page “Americans Against The Republican Party” claimed that President Donald Trump said “a shutdown means the president is weak” in 2013.

“A shutdown falls on the president’s lack of leadership,” the full quote reads. “I mean problems start from the top and they have to get solved from the top. A shutdown means the president is weak.”

Verdict: False

Trump expressed similar sentiments in 2013, referring to the government shutdown during Barack Obama’s presidency, but much of the quote appears to be fabricated.

Fact Check:

More than a month into a partial government shutdown, Trump agreed to reopen the government for three weeks Friday. The deal does not include funding for Trump’s border wall.

The shutdown led some to dig up comments Trump purportedly made during a 16-day shutdown in 2013 that centered on Republican opposition to Obamacare.

Many users have posted the quote on Twitter. Even Democratic Rep. Brendan Boyle shared a similar quote during a three-day shutdown in January 2018.


The Daily Caller found no evidence that Trump said the quote in question. The first and third sentences appear fabricated, while the second sentence was pulled from an interview he did with “Fox and Friends” on Sept. 20, 2013.

“I mean problems start from the top, and they have to get solved from the top, and the president’s the leader, and he’s got to get everybody in a room, and he’s got to lead,” Trump said. “And he doesn’t do that, he doesn’t like doing that – that’s not his strength – and that’s why you have this horrible situation going on in Washington.”

Although the quote can’t be attributed to Trump, he has expressed similar sentiments in the past.

“FACT – the reason why Americans have to worry about a government shutdown is because Obama refuses to pass a budget,” Trump tweeted in August 2013, months before the shutdown.

“Leadership: Whatever happens, you’re responsible,” he tweeted in November 2013. “If it doesn’t happen, you’re responsible.”

In a 2013 interview with former Fox News host Greta Van Susteren, Trump faulted Obama for the shutdown. “You have to get everybody in a room, you have to be a leader,” he said. “You have to get a deal, and unfortunately, he’s never been a dealmaker.”

Trump made similar remarks in a 2011 interview with NBC. “If there is a shutdown, I think it would be a tremendously negative mark on the president of the United States. He’s the one who has to get people together!”

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Shane Devine

Fact Check Reporter

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