Power Players

Ex-FBI negotiator on shutdown bill: Trump 'got worn down,' he doesn't like 'long sieges'

President Donald J. Trump debates with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., left, as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Vice President Mike Pence listen during a meeting in the Oval Office of White House on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Jabin Botsford | The Washington Post | Getty Images

The government shutdown is over (for now), but what have we learned about President Donald Trump's negotiating style?

"President Trump sees himself as a warrior, and warriors don't like long sieges," former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss tells CNBC Make It about the agreement to reopen the government.

On Friday, the president signed a bill to temporarily reopen the government after a record shutdown that left nearly 800,000 federal employees without paychecks for over a month, but the bill did not include any money for Trump's border wall.

It was a fact not lost on the Twittersphere. Many roasted Trump for taking 35 days and (in several polls) a hit to his approval rating to end up just where he started.

Meanwhile, Trump tweeted the deal was "in no way a concession."

"I don't think [Trump] thinks he got a good deal," Voss says. "He just got worn down and saw the tide steadily turning against him with no end in sight."

Voss, who was the FBI's lead international kidnapping negotiator and a member of the New York City Joint Terrorist Task Force for 14 years and is now founder and CEO of strategy consultancy Black Swan Group, previously told CNBC's "Power Lunch" that Trump is "an assertive, openly aggressive negotiator."

"The aggressive negotiator wants to win via open aggression, with the counterpart being subdued," Voss tells CNBC Make It. Aggressive negotiators like Trump often engage in brinkmanship — such as shutting down the entire federal government for over a month — "because he feels it gets him what he wants" when opponents eventually back down.

However, Voss also tells CNBC Make It that Trump's counterparts in the negotiations over the shutdown, Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Charles Schumer, were smart to stay calm and unblinking in their refusal to give in to the president's demands.

Trump's opponents have realized "that their only choice is to react to him with long sieges," he says.

"Once you understand that patience and silence is a weapon, you can use it to great effect," Voss previously told CNBC Make It about the negotiating style of Pelosi and Schumer.

VIDEO2:3002:30
FBI Negotiator: Here's how to beat Trump at his own game

Several negotiations experts have pointed out that Trump's zero-sum negotiating style — where one side has to lose in order for the other to win — might be more effective in real estate (where Trump worked before moving into the White House) than in high-stakes political negotiations. In real estate, you can usually just find another deal partner when talks reach an impasse, but that's not the case with the federal budget.

Of course, the president's ongoing insistence that he will not give up until he secures funding for a border wall means that the political standoff between Trump and Democratic leaders is likely far from over. Indeed, the president is now saying the government could be shut down again once funding lapses on Feb. 15, and that he still will not accept a permanent solution that does not include $5.7 billion for the border wall.

For her part, Pelosi reiterated on Friday that she's "been very clear on the wall" and that she will continue to refuse to support any funding for a border wall.

Voss says the president may have to take up a different strategy if he wants to avoid yet another long shutdown after failing to gain anything meaningful from the first one.

"He's going to be very tempted to shut the government down again, but he's probably learned that [Pelosi] will just go back to the long siege, so he's going to have to try to shift the ground," Voss tells CNBC Make It.

What could that mean? Countless pundits have weighed in on what options Trump has for putting a permanent end to the fight over a border wall, which could include the Trump administration offering Democrats something substantial in return for their support (a path to citizenship for "Dreamers," undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, for instance). Or Trump might make good on his threat to declare a national emergency and use his executive power to order the wall to be built without congressional approval (a move that could be challenged in court).

The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC Make It's request for comment.

Don't Miss:

Ex-FBI hostage negotiator on the shutdown: This is what has to happen before Trump makes a deal

Ex-FBI hostage negotiator: This is what you can expect from President Trump and Kim Jong Un summit

Like this story? Subscribe to CNBC Make It on YouTube!

VIDEO1:0401:04
Here's how much President Trump's 27-year-old assistant makes
President Donald J. Trump debates with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., left, as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Vice President Mike Pence listen during a meeting in the Oval Office of White House on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Jabin Botsford | The Washington Post | Getty Images
make it

Stay in the loop

Sign Up

About Us

Learn More

Follow Us

CNBC.COM