President Donald Trump is departing for the southern border to make the case for the wall on Thursday, the 20th day of the government shutdown, and as a congressional solution seems out of reach, it appears that Trump is moving closer to declaring a national emergency on the border.
Trump is expected to participate in a roundtable on immigration and border security at the US Border Patrol McAllen Station. He will also receive a briefing on border security at the Rio Grande before returning to Washington later in the evening.
It increasingly looks like Trump could declare a national emergency in order to fund his wall and then sign the spending bills to open up the government, according to a White House official. Talks with Democrats stalled Wednesday after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told the President she would not support building a barrier structure on the US-Mexico border.
Ahead of his departure, the President was still stewing about the Situation Room meeting that began with sweets but quickly turned sour.
“Cryin Chuck told his favorite lie when he used his standard sound bite that I ‘slammed the table & walked out of the room. He had a temper tantrum.’ Because I knew he would say that, and after Nancy said no to proper Border Security, I politely said bye-bye and left, no slamming!” Trump insisted on Twitter.
With talks at even more of a stalemate, officials inside the administration increasingly feel like an emergency declaration is one of few options.
In an unusual move, Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel, is traveling with the President to the southern border Thursday. Trump is not expected to declare a national emergency while there, though people close to the President caution this could change. There has been serious debate internally about the legal ramifications of Trump declaring a national emergency so he can build his border wall without congressional approval.
“I have the absolute right to do national emergency if I want,” Trump told reporters Wednesday.
While it’s not certain Trump will declare an emergency, the White House likes being able to hold the card over Democrats who they say have refused to compromise or even negotiate.
White House officials, even those who feel they’ve “won” the shutdown messaging so far, say they believe things will take a turn starting Friday, when hundreds of thousands of federal workers won’t receive their paychecks. Things could only get worse on Saturday, when news outlets and television networks will be able to declare this the longest continuous shutdown in US history.
As Trump makes his pitch for a barrier on the southern border, he’s acknowledged the Texas trip is simply for publicity.
“It’s not going to change a damn thing, but I’m still doing it,” Trump said of the border visit during a meeting between the President and network anchors Tuesday afternoon.
Trump referenced his advisers Bill Shine, Kellyanne Conway and White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, who were all in the room during the off-the-record meeting, first reported by the New York Times, and said they convinced him the trip would be “worth it.”