Trump de­clares bor­der emer­gency, de­cries ‘in­va­sion’

The Tribune (SLO) - - News - BY PETER BAKER


Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump de­clared a na­tional emer­gency on the bor­der with Mex­ico on Fri­day to ac­cess bil­lions of dol­lars that Congress re­fused to give him to build a wall there, trans­form­ing a highly charged pol­icy dis­pute into a con­fronta­tion over the sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers out­lined in the Con­sti­tu­tion.

Try­ing to re­gain mo­men­tum af­ter los­ing a grind­ing two-month bat­tle with law­mak­ers over fund­ing the wall, Trump as­serted that the flow of drugs, crim­i­nals and unau­tho­rized im­mi­grants from Mex­ico con­sti­tuted a pro­found threat to na­tional se­cu­rity that jus­ti­fied uni­lat­eral ac­tion.

“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,” he said in a tele­vised state­ment in the Rose Gar­den barely 13 hours af­ter Congress passed a spend­ing mea­sure without the money he had sought.

“It’s an in­va­sion,” he added. “We have an in­va­sion of drugs and crim­i­nals com­ing into our coun­try.”

But with il­le­gal bor­der cross­ings al­ready down and crit­ics ac­cus­ing him of man­u­fac­tur­ing a cri­sis, he may have un­der­cut his own ar­gu­ment that the bor­der sit­u­a­tion was so ur­gent it re­quired emer­gency ac­tion.

“I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster,” he said. “I just want to get it done faster, that’s all.”

The pres­i­dent’s de­ci­sion in­cited in­stant con­dem­na­tion from Democrats, who called it an un­con­sti­tu­tional abuse of his au­thor­ity and vowed to try to over­turn it with the sup­port of Repub­li­cans who also ob­jected to the move.

“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,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Cal­i­for­nia and Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the Demo­cratic leader, said in a joint state­ment.

Trump’s an­nounce­ment came dur­ing a free­wheel­ing, 50-minute ap­pear­ance in which he ping­ponged from topic to topic, touch­ing on the econ­omy, China trade talks and his com­ing sum­mit with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un. The pres­i­dent again sug­gested that he should win the No­bel Peace Prize, and he re­viewed which con­ser­va­tive com­men­ta­tors had been sup­port­ive of him, while dis­miss­ing Ann Coul­ter, who has not.

Sound­ing al­ter­nately de­fen­sive and ag­grieved, Trump ex­plained his fail­ure to se­cure wall fund­ing dur­ing his first two years in of­fice when Repub­li­cans con­trolled both houses of Congress by say­ing, “I was a lit­tle new to the job.” He blamed “cer­tain peo­ple, a par­tic­u­lar one, for not hav­ing pushed this faster,” a clear ref­er­ence to for­mer Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

Trump’s as­ser­tions were re­plete with mis­in­for­ma­tion and, when chal­lenged by re­porters, he re­fused to ac­cept statis­tics pro­duced by his own gov­ern­ment that con­flicted with his nar­ra­tive.

“The num­bers that you gave are wrong,” he told one re­porter. “It’s a fake ques­tion.”

On point af­ter point, the pres­i­dent in­sisted he would be proved cor­rect.

“Peo­ple said, ‘Trump is crazy,’” he said at one point, dis­cussing his out­reach to Kim. “And you know what it ended up be­ing? A very good re­la­tion­ship.”

Trump ac­knowl­edged that his dec­la­ra­tion of a na­tional emer­gency would be lit­i­gated in the courts and even pre­dicted a rough road for his side.

“Look, I ex­pect to be sued,” he said, launch­ing into a mock­ing riff about how he an­tic­i­pated lower court rulings against him. “And we’ll win in the Supreme Court,” he pre­dicted.

In­deed, Pub­lic Cit­i­zen, an ad­vo­cacy group, filed suit by the end of the day on be­half of three Texas landown­ers whose prop­erty might be taken for a bar­rier. Cal­i­for­nia and New York like­wise an­nounced that they will sue over what Cal­i­for­nia Gov. Gavin New­som called the pres­i­dent’s “van­ity project,” and a ros­ter of other groups lined up to do the same.

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