Week after week, Trump had demanded that the government stay partially shuttered until Democrats agreed to pay for his wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Surrounded by a shrinking cast of advisers, he watched as federal workers went unpaid and basic services were frozen. His poll numbers were slipping. His arguments were landing with a thud with the public.
A pair of Senate votes on Thursday, and a round of telephone calls from frustrated Republicans, made clear he had no way out. A president who never admits defeat then began a rapid retreat.
The story of how Trump reversed himself, ending the country’s longest shutdown with little to show for it, is largely one of acceptance. Over 35 days and a critical final 24 hours, Trump finally came to see what many allies had known for weeks about his strategy: His only option was to climb down, at least for now.
So Trump did what he does best, ending one campaign and beginning the next. As soon as this shutdown was about to close, he promised everyone a new fight would begin – and another shutdown could soon follow.