Jan 11, 2019, 5:54 PM ET

Trump says he's not declaring national emergency for now, calls it 'the easy way out' of border wall fight

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On Day 21 of the partial government shutdown, President Donald Trump signaled Friday he's not inclined to declare a national emergency "so fast" – calling that “the easy way out” – even as he continued to assert he has the "absolute right" to do so if congressional Democrats keep refusing to pay for the wall Trump wants on the U.S. border with Mexico.

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On Saturday, the shutdown becomes the longest ever.

"What we're not looking to do right now is national emergency, what we want to do, we have the absolute right to do it, in many ways it’s the easy way out, but this is up to Congress, and it should be up to Congress, and they should do it,” the president said Friday during a roundtable discussion on border security.

But even as he expressed his strong preference to reach a deal with Congress, he also made clear that he will go forward with an emergency declaration should he fail to gain congressional approval.

"If they can't do it, I will declare a national emergency. I have the absolute right to do it,” he said.

But as the third week of the partial government shutdown came to a close, the two sides were no closer to finding any common ground after negotiations fell apart during a White House meeting Wednesday.

Even Republican senators on Friday offered conflicting advice to the president over whether he should go ahead and declare an emergency.

Trump ally and new chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, met with the president at the White House on Friday afternoon and in a tweet afterward wrote, "Mr. President, Declare a national emergency NOW. Build a wall NOW."

PHOTO: Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks to members of the media outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington after his meeting with President Donald Trump, Dec. 30, 2018.Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks to members of the media outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington after his meeting with President Donald Trump, Dec. 30, 2018.

But other Republicans have warned the president against using his executive power to circumvent Congress and use funds allocated to the military to build a wall, saying it would set a dangerous political precedent.

"I think the president should not do it. I think as a member of Congress I ought to be very selfish about the constitutional powers that we have to appropriate money. I think it might be a bad precedent," Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Friday morning to CNN.

"For people on my side of the aisle, one of the concerns we should have is if today the national emergency is border security, and it entitles him to go out and do something — we all support that," Sen. Marco Rubio, a Flordia Republican, told CNBC.

"Tomorrow. the national-security emergency might be climate change, so let's seize the fossil-fuel plants or something. Maybe it's an exaggeration, but my point is we've got to be very careful about endorsing broad uses of executive power."

GOP Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah Rob Portman of Ohio both said they don't want the president to declare a national emergency.

Democrats, meanwhile, have vowed to introduce a resolution to overturn any emergency declaration and have promised quick court challenges if he makes the move.

As of Friday, there were no negotiations scheduled and no end in sight to the current impasse between Trump and congressional Democrats over border wall funding, with the government shutdown tying the record for the longest in American history.

At the same time on Friday, thousands of the more than 800,000 federal workers furloughed missed their first scheduled paychecks during the shutdown.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump tours the U.S. border with Mexico at the Rio Grande on the southern border, Jan. 10, 2019, in McAllen, Texas.Evan Vucci/AP
President Donald Trump tours the U.S. border with Mexico at the Rio Grande on the southern border, Jan. 10, 2019, in McAllen, Texas.

The president traveled to McAllen, Texas, on Thursday to draw attention to his continued demands for $5.7 billion for a wall along the southern border, repeating that if negotiations broke down, he was likely to declare a national emergency to secure funding.

The White House has directed the Army Corps of Engineers to find money designated for disaster relief projects for the wall, sources tell ABC News.

On Friday, the president laid the groundwork to his potential claim of a national emergency by tweeting about the situation he observed while on the border.

"Humanitarian Crisis at our Southern Border. I just got back and it is a far worse situation than almost anyone would understand, an invasion! I have been there numerous times - The Democrats, Cryin’ Chuck and Nancy don’t know how bad and dangerous it is for our ENTIRE COUNTRY," Trump wrote, referring to his standoff with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

"The Steel Barrier, or Wall, should have been built by previous administrations long ago. They never got it done - I will. Without it, our Country cannot be safe. Criminals, Gangs, Human Traffickers, Drugs & so much other big trouble can easily pour in. It can be stopped cold!" He continued.

Vice President Mike Pence was briefed Friday by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, and the Chief of U.S. Border Patrol Carla Provost. Afterward, he addressed Customs and Border Patrol employees in an effort to "boost morale," according to an aide.

"While some in the public debate say this is a manufactured crisis, I expect the men and women in uniform here and those that might be looking on know the truth of it," he said. The vice president said 27,000 people crossed the border in December, at the highest levels seen since the president took office. "It is putting an extraordinary burden on us border patrol and customs officers."

“We have a humanitarian crisis on our southern border and it demands action by Congress,” Pence said. He added that the administration will continue to "keep fighting to build the wall and give you the resources you need to do your job."

Pence told the officers gathered, all of whom are working without pay, that at the president's direction the administration has "taken steps to mitigate the impact of this partial shutdown," adding that the House had passed legislation to ensure back pay when the government reopens.

"We're going to continue to work to end this shutdown but we're going to continue to stand to get you the resources you need," Pence said.

Democrats have said, however, that they will not capitulate to the president's demands for wall funding in order to reopen the government.

The Senate and House adjourned Friday until next week, meaning the partial government shutdown will continue until then at the earliest.

ABC News' Mariam Khan contributed to this report.

News - Trump says he's not declaring national emergency for now, calls it 'the easy way out' of border wall fight

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CComments

  • Lovejoy

    Of all the options, the easiest way out is for Trump to resign. Of course the other cronies need to resign, too (Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell). Then maybe we can have a functional government again.

  • Truthfully

    ENOUGH!
    Stop the trump republican enablers SHUTDOWN!
    How has the Great USA become a DICTATORSHIP?
    When do the MAJORITY of AMERICAN Citizens Opinion Count?

    When will the republicans Listen? The Next Blue Wave?

  • OneMoreYes33a

    "It’s clear to both of us that Democrats don’t want to make a deal and will never support border wall/barriers."

    Except that Democrats DO support the border securities and DO support barriers (that are already in place) where it makes sense.

  • drathvedar

    The very fact that a person would have to ponder whether or not to declare an emergency says that it's not an emergency. How can anyone not realize that?

  • RohnertPark1

    Sure he doesn't. Just saving face after his GOP advisors told him what a stupid idea it was. What an ego maniac.

  • catmom

    Oh for goodness sakes!!! You either have an emergency or you don't. trump is using this as a means to get what he wants and that is no emergency. He is no longer fooling people. Most of us have figured trump out.

  • inonepeice

    Trump says he doesn't want to take the easy way out. Yeah sure... Taking the easy way out is filing for bankruptcy or settling for fraud out of court. And Trump has a history of it.

  • Lew Fournier

    If you have to ponder whether or not an emergency exists, it's not an emergency. What a clueless dope Spanky is.

  • William Rose

    Easiest = Get rid of Trump.

  • Linda

    "Build a wall" is an easy concept. Even for someone with as limited an intellect as trump. Now health care, infrastructure, real immigration reform, etc. is beyond trump's capacity to understand. The wall is all he's got.

  • owthathurts

    We're getting close to the time when Trump's only way out will be a night-time escape to Moscow.

  • kritikosman

    Who's gonna pay for the peaches!?

  • äskew

    The easy way out is through the back door and wave to the crowd from the helicopter.
    The hard way out is the front door in handcuffs....but I enjoy a good perp walk

  • inonepeice

    Well at least Putin is happy.

  • inonepeice

    Bankruptcy is the easy way out and Trump has been down that path many times.

  • kcmookie

    Continue to negotiate with Congress? What have you offered? What concession have you made? Graham speaks of negotiating in good faith, when has Trump ever acted in good faith? You reach a consensus, and he simply changes his mind. How do you negotiate with someone like that?

  • snake

    If declaring an emergency was the "easy way out" Trump would have already done it. Obviously he is getting the distraction he needs from his treason.

  • mark2789

    The easier way out would be to accept fact and truth from those who know about how little the wall would help then call the whole thing off. But your sick little narcissistic ego wont allow that so you must destroy all you encounter in order to win. and you don't care what damage you do.

  • Tanya Henderson

    " so much other big problems" sigh.

  • rpresident

    If this is a "humanitarian crisis" as Trump now states...shouldn't we be sending water, food, and shelter to those affected? You don't build a wall after a hurricane, or build a wall to provide famine relief. Building the wall does not solve a "humanitarian crisis", so quit using that term.

  • arriba65

    Trump wants this to hurt. He wants the country to hurt so he can get what he wants.

  • kritikosman

    You (trump) quitting is an easier way out!

  • Cathy

    How can this be? Didn't Trump just say a few days ago that all the Republicans were unified in their support of the wall?

  • Pologize3

    Actually, it's not the easy way out. It will be challenged and sent to the supreme court. It will be very lengthy litigation.

  • Corey Mondello

    Calling a national emergency shouldn’t be easy for anyone. It shows the US prez has too much power!

  • Sarah Levine

    Not so fast to take "The easy way out” Trump said.

    Of course he doesn't want to take the easy way out, the longer the shutdown drags on the more likely he bumps the Mueller and FBI stories from the headlines. Trump does know how to control the news cycle.

  • chooch

    The easy way out would have been for him to sign the bipartisan bill a week or two ago. Now it is the Trump shutdown and he doesn't know how to save face and get out of his own box.

  • TheZeppelingFloyds

    I seriously think Trump was sent by Dems to destroy the GOP.

  • ryanwiwb

    Apparently someone in the White House Counsels office pointed out that there needs to be a real emergency before you declare an emergency.

  • David Howell

    Are we tired of winning let? Trump (the Country will be so tired of winning they will ask me to stop).

  • helios

    The only plus I see here is the fool saying "it's the easy way out" which translates to - it will NOT be easy at all.

  • Eric Janssen

    Although more familiarly, the "Easy way out" is suicide--
    Politically, so are shutdowns.

  • Wanbleeman

    No, no state of emergency for this fool. So do your job, override Mitch McConnell and do the right thing Republicans.

  • Steven E

    Seems like he has realized that spending the money from another source is likely misappropriation and a none starter. So once again he looks big and sounds stupid.

  • kritikosman

    The easiest way out is for you (trump) to quit!!

  • SJC

    The proper way is to forget about your wall and get the government running.

  • Justbkind16

    He's really stuck between a rock and a hard place. Calling it a national emergency is not the easy way out like he ''bravely'' claims. He knows very well that it would set a precedent for a future Democratic president to do the same.

  • mtntrek3

    Well, thankfully Trump isn't the ruler of our country. We're going to make that clear next year.

  • Truthfully

    America held Hostage by gutless republican senators! May the next blue wave slap you in the face.

    Usually people learn by mistakes?

  • Truthfully

    the easy way out?
    No trump no easy way out of this mistake!
    Just like Alex Jones found out today. The Newtown Families get to look into ALL of Jones web site marketing and financial records.

    Now if we could just get a hold of trumps!

  • whoiamnow

    If the wall is that dang detrimental, then why not take the easy route? Oh, that's because he's a stupid liar.

  • J W

    When a child has a tantrum the surest way to insure that he will do it again is to give in to his coercion. The Democrats have passed bills to reopen Government, the Republicans are refusing to vote on them. They are enabling the Presidents childish behavior and insuring that we will see more of it. They along with the President are solely responsible for the suffering of Federal employees and need to open the Government now.

  • Tstruck

    Well the gofundme for the Trump memorial wall is a bust ... shut down because it didn't reach its goal. All donations will be returned.

  • Robin

    Just saw a clip of Donnie from today speaking to reporters. Had a big hair out of place. Looked even more ridiculous than normal.