President Trump addressed White House reporters this morning to announce his decision to declare a national emergency to build the border wall, a move that has been widely expected.
According to the Congressional Research Service, the National Emergencies Act of 1976 states: “The President of the United States has available certain powers that may be exercised in the event that the nation is threatened by crisis, exigency, or emergency circumstances (other than natural disasters, war, or near-war situations).”
“A senior White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity said such emergencies have been declared 58 times, and 31 are still in effect. The money for the border barrier is simply being “reprogrammed to other uses.””
Speaking without a teleprompter, Trump shared an exchange he had had with China’s President Xi at the Argentina Summit, after Xi told him that China did not have a drug problem. Trump asked Xi how a country with a population of 1.4 billion did not have a drug problem. Xi attributed this to the fact that the penalty for drug trafficking in China is death.
He said America is way too lenient on drug traffickers. “What do we do? We set up a blue ribbon committee. Lovely men and women. They sit around a table, they have lunch, they eat, they dine and they waste a lot of time, so if we want to get smart, we can end the drug problem here.”
Trump pointed out that 70,000 Americans are dying each year from drug abuse and said that the increasing prevalence of fentanyl has only exacerbated the problem.
“It’s very simple, we want to stop drugs and criminals coming into our country. We fight wars that we should never have been in many cases. But we don’t defend our border…Walls work 100 percent.”
Trump said, “We’re talking about an invasion of our country. We’re going to confront the national security crisis on our southern border, and we’re going to do it one way or the other.”
In a likely reference to former-Speaker Paul Ryan, Trump said that “people who should have stepped up didn’t step up.”
Trump predicted that the 9th Circuit court will rule against him and described what the legal process might look like. He said, “We will have a national emergency, and we will then be sued. We will possibly get a bad ruling, and then we’ll get another bad ruling. Then we’ll end up in the Supreme Court, and hopefully we’ll get a fair shake, and we’ll win at the Supreme Court — just like the [travel] ban.”
He defended his decision to go forward with this move saying that he had tried to go through Congress, but that his efforts had been blocked due to politics. Truer words were never spoken.
Earlier today, a senior White House official said the funds for the wall will provided as follows:
- $1.375 billion from the Homeland Security appropriations bill
- $600 million from the Treasury Department’s drug forfeiture fund
- $2.5 billion from the Department of Defense’s drug interdiction program
- $3.6 billion from the Department of Defense’s military construction account
Following the address, the President took questions, many of which referred to the “constitutionality” of this step.
Predictably, Trump clashed with CNN’s Jim Acosta, who accused Trump of exaggerating the problems at the border.
“What do you say to critics who say that you are creating a national emergency? That you’re concocting a national emergency here to get your wall,” Acosta said.
Trump pointed to the Angel Moms and said, “You think I’m creating something? Ask these incredible women who lost their daughters and their sons. OK, Because your question is a very political question because you have an agenda. You’re CNN. You’re fake news.”
Charlie Spiering reports that after the press conference, the Angel Moms confronted Acosta, who invited them to join him on air.
After Angel Moms confront Jim Acosta, he invites them to join him on air pic.twitter.com/VCL5DyzgXZ
— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) February 15, 2019
Most Democrats and even some Republicans oppose Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency.
In a joint statement, Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said: “This is plainly a power grab by a disappointed President, who has gone outside the bounds of the law to try to get what he failed to achieve in the constitutional legislative process.”
The battle lines are drawn. Let the games begin.