Anyone who is ever in a position where they must negotiate with a serial liar is urged to watch incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s conversation Tuesday with Donald Trump at the White House.

Trump, it appears, in the name of “transparency” (where are your tax returns, Mr. Trump?) invited the cameras into the room, perhaps thinking that because he sits in the presidential power chair (with silent Vice President Mike Pence at his side) and seats Pelosi and Schumer on sofas across from one another, he could reprise “The Apprentice” and conclude the meeting by issuing a dictum.

But it was not to be, at least as Trump likely choreographed the event. Neither Pelosi nor Schumer deferred to President Trump; Pelosi asked for “evidence-based” decision making (Trump seemed not to understand); and Schumer confronted Trump with the claim that the president has, on 20 different occasions, stated publicly that he will shut down the federal government if Congress does not fund his wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump’s response to Schumer merely repeated what he had said to the cameras over and over again — that the wall is essential to border security. Schumer politely but firmly made the point that Democrats also want border security and will provide funding to that end, but that the wall is not needed. Pelosi claimed, contrary to what Trump alleged, that Trump does not have the votes in the House to prevail, and the president himself admitted that he does not have the votes in the Senate, either.

A Mexican, ahem, standoff? Hardly.

Schumer manipulated the self-styled “dealmaker-in-chief” into stating that he will shut down the government if he does not get the funding for the wall. Schumer got the president to repeat his threat to shut down the government, and pointed out that Trump will be held responsible for a shutdown. Trump agreed, and promised he would take the blame. Schumer even got on the record The Washington Post Fact Checker’s use of a new Pinocchio rating to account for lies Trump has told repeatedly about certain issues. (The border wall is one: The Post has found that Trump lied to the public 86 different times in the seven months before the midterm elections, falsely claiming that “We’ve started building the wall.”)

Trump knows he does not have the votes in Congress to fund his border wall (and no longer references his campaign promise that Mexico will pay for the wall), but presumably he believed that he could bully the Democratic congressional leaders into giving him his wall. A dreadful misreading of the opposition on Trump’s part.

The “very stable genius” (which is how Trump has described himself) and dealmaker lost his temper more than once, interrupted Pelosi repeatedly and, like a petulant child, ended the meeting with a repeat of his threat to shut down the government. Pelosi reportedly told staffers after the meeting that for Trump, the wall is a test of his “manhood.”

In this exchange, Trump was emasculated by his Democratic opposition.

How can someone known for his frequent lying dare to think he will actually be taken seriously by conscientious public servants? Pelosi and Schumer approached him not with a Henry Kissinger negotiating strategy of “trust but verify,” but instead with their own “mistrust and clarify” — and it worked in this instance. Treat Trump as the discredited liar he is, and the chances of beating the president at his own game improve remarkably.

The exchange between the president and his Democratic Party opposition likely signals what the executive-legislative interaction will look like over the next two years, since the Democrats control the House following the blue-wave midterm election. Ugly and embarrassing, not because Pelosi and Schumer called the president’s bluff, but instead because of the embattled Trump’s juvenile behavior.

Let the games begin!

Roger Bowen is a Prospect Harbor resident and author of “Japan’s Dysfunctional Democracy,” a study of corruption in postwar Japan.

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