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Trump says he will 'probably' declare a national emergency to build wall if Congress doesn't fund it

Trump added it would be "very surprising" if he did not declare an emergency if he failed to get congressional approval

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

On Thursday, President Donald Trump said that if Congress failed to reach a deal that would include funding for his border wall, he will "probably" declare a national emergency and order the military to construct the wall without congressional approval.

What's the story?

Speaking to reporters before a planned visit to the U.S.-Mexico border, Trump said:

I have an absolute right to declare a national emergency. The lawyers have so advised me. I'm not prepared to do that yet. But if I have to I will. I have no doubt about it, I will. I have the absolute right to declare — this was passed by Congress, so when you say it wasn't passed by Congress, it was. Other presidents have used it, some fairly often. I have the absolute right to declare a national emergency. I haven't done it yet. I may do it. If this doesn't work out, probably I will do it. I would almost say definitely.


He stressed that "this is a national emergency" but he would "like to do the deal through Congress" because it "makes sense."

Asked to clarify what the chances were that he would declare a national emergency, Trump said "if we don't make a deal — I would say 100 percent, but I don't want to say 100 percent, because maybe something else comes up. But if we don't make a deal, I would say it would be very surprising to me that I would not declare a national emergency and just fund it through the various mechanisms. And by the way, there's more than one mechanism, there's various mechanisms."

What else?

This echoes comments Trump made while talking to reporters last week. Asked if he had ever considered using emergency powers to go around Congress to build the wall, Trump said, "Yes, I have. Yes, I have, and I could do it if I want." He added that he could "absolutely" declare a national emergency "and build it very quickly."

"And it's another way of doing it," he said, "but if we can do it through a negotiated process, we're giving that a shot."

On Thursday, Trump walked out of a meeting with Congressional Democrats after they were unable to assure him that they would approve funding for his proposed wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

If Trump did declare a national emergency for this purpose, lawmakers and courts would almost certainly try to contest whether or not he is legally permitted to do so.

"I think that would be a very dubious move from a constitutional perspective," Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a frequent critic of the president, told NBC News on Wednesday.

One last thing…
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