Yet for Trump, the negotiations were never really about figuring out how to win. They were about figuring out how to lose — and how to cast his ultimate defeat as victory instead…

Privately, Trump complained vociferously about the final deal and said he felt Republican negotiators had failed him and that he might not sign it, according to one person who spoke to the president. “Everyone thinks this is terrible,” Trump told this person on Tuesday, echoing the criticism from some of his supporters in conservative media, including Fox News host Sean Hannity.

But Trump did not have the stomach for another shutdown and told aides it had generated nonstop negative coverage…

Democrats decided in the final days they needed to be careful with their language, worried they could provoke Trump into another shutdown.

“He doesn’t seem to work on a totally rational basis,” Schumer said in the Post interview. “Little comments throw him off.”