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Trump Announces National Emergency at Border
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=50166"><span class="small">John Wagner, Josh Dawsey and Damian Paletta, The Washington Post</span></a>   
Friday, 15 February 2019 12:09

Excerpt: "President Trump on Friday declared a national emergency in a move designed to circumvent Congress and build additional barriers at the southern border, where he said the United States faces 'an invasion of our country.'"

Border wall. (photo: Getty)
Border wall. (photo: Getty)

Trump Announces National Emergency at Border

By John Wagner, Josh Dawsey and Damian Paletta, The Washington Post

15 February 19


resident Trump on Friday declared a national emergency in a move designed to circumvent Congress and build additional barriers at the southern border, where he said the United States faces “an invasion of our country.”

Trump is seeking to secure about $6.5 billion more in funding than Congress approved in a bill passed Thursday to avert another partial government shutdown. In a Rose Garden news conference, Trump did not mention of signing the bill but his acting chief of staff told reporters he intends to do so.

Many of Trump’s Republican allies have called a national emergency ill-advised, and Democrats immediately called the move unconstitutional and vowed to fight it legislatively or in court. The declaration is expected to face an array of other legal challenges.

12:25 p.m.: ‘California will see you in court,’ the state’s governor tells Trump

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said that his state will take Trump to court to block his emergency declaration.

“This ‘emergency’ is a national disgrace, and the blame lays solely at the feet of the President,” Newsom said in a statement.

The governor took issue with Trump’s plans to divert drug diversion funding to building barriers at the border.

“He plans to shut down and divert funds used by California law enforcement that run counter-narcotics operations and fight drug cartels to build his wall,” Newsom said. “Our message back to the White House is simple and clear: California will see you in court.”

12:20 p.m.: McConnell blames Democrats for Trump’s declaration

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Trump’s hand was forced on declaring a national emergency by congressional Democrats.

“President Trump’s decision to announce emergency action is the predictable and understandable consequence of Democrats’ decision to put partisan obstruction ahead of the national interest,” McConnell said in a statement. “I urge my Democratic colleagues to quickly get serious, put partisanship aside, and work with the president and our homeland security experts to provide the funding needed to secure our borders as we begin the next round of appropriations.”

11:45 a.m.: Leading Democratic appropriators chastise Trump, vow action

House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.) harshly criticized Trump’s “phony national emergency” and said Democrats are exploring ways to fight it.

“In the coming days, we will carefully study the details of President Trump’s announcement and determine how best to challenge it, both legislatively and legally,” Lowey said in a statement. “As we debate this issue, I implore Congressional Republicans to work with us to protect our institution and defend the Constitution.”

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, also took aim at Trump.

“There is no national emergency. No one who subscribes to reality can claim otherwise,” Leahy said in a statement.

Leahy said Trump was motivated by his desire to keep a “foolish” campaign promise to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“President Trump simply failed to get a deal to build his wasteful vanity wall,” Leahy said. “He failed to get a deal with Mexico, despite promising his supporters more than 200 times that Mexico would pay for it. He failed to get a deal with his own party, even during the two years when Republicans controlled all levers of government. And he failed to get a deal now.”

11:30 a.m.: Trump wraps up remarks, makes no mention of signing spending bill

Trump wrapped up a Rose Garden news conference that stretched about 50 minutes without saying he would sign a spending bill passed by Congress on Thursday and intended to avert a government shutdown.

Speaking to reporters earlier, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said Trump intends to sign the spending bill on Friday or possibly Saturday.

Funding for nine Cabinet departments and dozens of other agencies expires at midnight Friday.

11:25 a.m.: Trump takes apparent shot at former speaker Ryan

During his remarks in the Rose Garden, Trump said he was disappointed by one Republican in particular for not pushing faster for a border wall.

Asked by a reporter if he was talking about former House speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), Trump demurred.

“Let’s not talk about it, what difference does it make?” he said.

11:20 a.m.: New York attorney general vows to ‘fight back with every legal tool at our disposal’

As Trump was still speaking, New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) said the president had created a “constitutional crisis.”

“This action will harm Americans across the country by diverting funds necessary to handle real emergencies and real disasters to advance the President’s personal agenda,” James said in a statement. “We will not stand for this abuse of power and will fight back with every legal tool at our disposal.”

11:10 a.m.: Pelosi, Schumer say Trump is shredding the Constitution

In a statement issued as Trump continued to speak in the Rose Garden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) called Trump’s emergency declaration “unlawful.”

“The President’s actions clearly violate the Congress’s exclusive power of the purse, which our Founders enshrined in the Constitution,” the two Democratic leaders said. “The Congress will defend our constitutional authorities in the Congress, in the Courts, and in the public, using every remedy available.”

“The President is not above the law,” Pelosi and Schumer added. “The Congress cannot let the President shred the Constitution.”

11:05 a.m.: White House shares photo of Trump signing declaration

As Trump was speaking, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted out a photo of Trump signing the emergency declaration.

Trump acknowledged in his remarks that his declaration of a national emergency would face court challenges and that he could lose in lower courts.

“Hopefully we’ll get a fair shake” in the Supreme Court, Trump said. “We’re declaring it for virtual invasion purposes.”

He later added: “Sadly, we’ll be sued, and sadly, we’ll go through a process.”

10:50 a.m.: Trump confirms plans to declare a national emergency

During ongoing remarks in the Rose Garden, Trump confirmed his plans to declare a national emergency as means to circumvent Congress and build additional border barriers.

“I’m going to be signing a national emergency,” Trump said. “We’re talking about an invasion of our country with drugs, with human traffickers, with all types of criminals and gangs.”

10:40 a.m.: Trump to declare national emergency, seeking to redirect Treasury, Pentagon funding for border barriers

Mulvaney confirmed to reporters that Trump intends to sign a spending bill to avert a government shutdown and also declare a national emergency to secure additional funding for border barriers.

“With the declaration of a national emergency, the president will have access to roughly $8 billion worth of money that can be used to secure the southern border,” Mulvaney told reporters, shortly before Trump was scheduled to speak in the Rose Garden.

Mulvaney said the steps were necessary because Congress wouldn’t act.

“They are simply incapable of providing the amount of money necessary in the president’s eyes to address the current situation at the border,” he said.

The White House’s goal is to build more than 234 miles of new barriers. It will be a bollard-wall type structure, officials said, not the concrete wall Trump promised during his campaign.

In addition to $1.375 billion included in the bill passed by Congress, Trump plans to draw money from a mixture of drug forfeiture funds, military projects and other accounts.

Trump is eyeing about $600 million from a Treasury Department drug forfeiture fund and $2.5 billion from a Defense Department drug interdiction program, according to officials.

In addition, the president wants to use $3.6 billion in military construction funds to help build his new border barriers.

Of the different pots of money, White House officials believe only a military construction account requires a national emergency designation.

The White House will not use any money that had been designated as disaster assistance for Puerto Rico or Texas, as some had speculated, Mulvaney said.

Mulvaney said declaring a national emergency would not set a precedent for future presidents because Trump would be using powers that the White House has always had.

White House officials would not describe the administration’s legal strategy in defending its approach against expected challenges on multiple fronts.

10:10 a.m.: U.S. Chamber of Commerce urges Trump to hold off on declaration

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a Trump ally on most issues, is asking him to hold off on declaring a national emergency.

“We have long fought against attempts by the executive branch to usurp the powers of Congress and to create law, such as we have seen in recent decades with the rise of the regulatory administrative state,” the group’s president, Thomas J. Donohue, said in a statement issued shortly before Trump was scheduled to speak.

“The U.S. Chamber urges the president not to attempt to declare a national emergency. Instead, we urge the president and members of Congress of both parties to negotiate and find common ground on immigration and border security,” he said. “The declaration of national emergency in this instance will create a dangerous precedent that erodes the very system of government that has served us so well for over 200 years.”

10 a.m.: White House pushes back Trump announcement until 10:30 a.m.

Trump’s Rose Garden announcement, previously scheduled for 10 a.m., has been pushed back to 10:30 a.m., White House aides said.

9:45 a.m.: Meadows says Trump’s actions are necessary because Congress failed him

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a Trump ally, defended the president’s plans to declare a national emergency, saying Congress had failed him on border security.

“I certainly support the president,” Meadows said during an appearance on Fox News. “I wish Congress could have done more to help him.”

Meadows said Trump’s actions were necessary “because Congress has failed this president and the American people.”

“The law of the land allows this president to do what he is about to do,” he added.

9 a.m.: Democrats warn of the dangers of taking money from military construction

As Trump prepared to announce a national emergency at the Mexican border, Democrats stepped up warnings about one of his planned funding sources to build new barriers: a military construction fund.

According to White House aides, Trump plans to tap about $3.6 billion from that fund in an effort to cobble together roughly $8 billion for wall and barrier construction.

“As a member of the Armed Services Committee we authorize billions of dollars to improve our bases every year,” Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), an Iraq War veteran, wrote on Twitter. “That money is to build facilities to recruit, train and retain the worlds best military. A fake national emergency takes money from that mission.”

8:30: Trump to tap funds from Treasury forfeiture account in an unprecedented way

The money that Trump is seeking to redirect to border-wall construction includes $600 million from the Treasury Forfeiture Fund, an account that is fed by money seized by the U.S. government.

This money comes from a number of agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation bureau, Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the U.S. Secret Service.

By law, the money can be used to promote “the use of proceeds from asset forfeitures to fund programs and activities aimed at disrupting criminal enterprises and enhancing forfeiture capabilities.”

The fund has never been used, though, in the way Trump will attempt to use it for a wall along the Mexico border.

8:15 a.m.: Schatz highlights Trump’s plans for golf after declaring emergency

As Democrats push back against Trump’s plans for declaring a national emergency at the border, some are employing a little humor.

“Apparently this thing is such an emergency that it will immediately be followed by golf,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) wrote on Twitter.

He was referring to Trump’s plans to fly to Palm Beach, Fla., on Friday afternoon for a weekend at his Mar-a-Lago estate. Golf is frequently on the agenda on such trips.

8:10 a.m.: GOP seizes on O’Rourke’s comments about tearing down existing barriers

As Trump planned to speak about his plans for the border, Republicans were highlighting comments by former congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-Tex.) that he would tear down existing barriers.

O’Rourke, who is considering a 2020 presidential bid, said on MSNBC on Thursday that existing walls and fences “have not in any demonstrable way made us safer.”

Besides being costly, O’Rourke said, existing barriers have “pushed migrants and asylum seekers and refugees to the most inhospitable, the most hostile stretches of the U.S.-Mexico border, ensuring their suffering and death.”

Several Republican lawmakers went on Twitter in response, including Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.).

“Give Beto O’Rourke points for honesty: he admits that he wants to tear down existing border walls & have totally open borders,” Cotton wrote. “At least he’ll say what most Democrat politicians believe.”

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) also weighed in.

“Correct me if I am wrong, but did Beto say he would tear down existing border fencing and walls?” Cornyn tweeted. “So he wants to make illegal immigration, human trafficking, and drug smuggling easier?”

7:30 a.m.: Senior officials say Trump moving forward, prepared to veto legislative effort to block emergency declaration

During a call with supporters and surrogates Friday morning, White House officials said that eminent domain will be used aggressively to secure land needed to build the wall and much of the construction will be along the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, according to a participant.

Russell Vought, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, said that it will “shock” people how quickly the administration is moving toward contracting and construction, according to the participant, who requested anonymity to share a call not intended to be made public.

White House adviser Stephen Miller also participated in the call.

Vought also said that Trump would “absolutely veto” any legislative effort to block his declaration of a national emergency, according to the participant.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said Thursday that he plans to introduce a resolution of disapproval that would overturn the declaration, calling it a “a gross abuse of power that cannot be tolerated.”

Under the National Emergencies Act, House passage of a disapproval resolution would trigger automatic consideration by the Senate, where a simple majority vote would be required to agree to it.

Given opposition from some Republicans, that raises the prospect that a disapproval resolution would pass the narrowly divided Senate in an embarrassing rebuke to Trump.

That would force him to veto the bill if he wants to move forward.

7 a.m.: Trump seeking a total of roughly $8 billion for wall and barriers

The White House has identified roughly $8 billion that it believes can be used toward building walls and other barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border.

In addition to $1.375 billion included in the bill passed by Congress, Trump plans to draw money from a mixture of drug forfeiture funds, military projects and other accounts, according to government officials briefed on the strategy, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a plan that has not been announced publicly.

Trump is eyeing about $600 million from a Treasury Department drug forfeiture fund and $2.5 billion from a Department of Defense drug interdiction program, according to the officials.

In addition, the president wants to use $3.6 billion in military construction funds to help build his border wall. The latter step would require declaring a national emergency.

6:45 a.m.: National emergency expected to draw a multitude of lawsuits

If Trump declares a national emergency to construct a wall on the southern border, only one thing is certain: There will be lawsuits. Lots of them. From California to Congress, the litigants will multiply.

They will file suit in numerous jurisdictions — certainly within the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit on the West Coast, in U.S. District Court in Washington and maybe even in New York. That’s been the pattern in the hundreds of lawsuits, many of them successful, brought against the Trump administration, the idea being that some judge somewhere will block the wall.

Read more here from The Post’s Fred Barbash, Ellen Nakashima and Josh Dawsey.

6:30 a.m.: Trump came close to allowing another shutdown

After three weeks of pained negotiations to keep the federal government open, Trump almost blew the whole thing up again on Thursday.

Headed for another defeat on his signature promise to make Mexico pay for a southern border wall, the president was frustrated after a briefing by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and others on details of the final deal to avoid a shutdown, according to officials involved in the discussions. Trump threatened not to sign the legislation, the officials said, putting the government on the brink of another damaging shutdown.

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