The White House said on Friday night that Donald Trump will “move forward” with funding for a wall along the southern border “with our without the Democrats.”
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee tweeted the warning while she defended the president against conservative criticism that he caved on wall funding in order to end the shutdown.
In 21 days President @realDonaldTrump is moving forward building the wall with or without the Democrats. The only outstanding question is whether the Democrats want something or nothing https://t.co/dMaDfBOIuT
— Stephanie Grisham (@PressSec) January 26, 2019
The president refused to characterize the deal as a “concession”:
I wish people would read or listen to my words on the Border Wall. This was in no way a concession. It was taking care of millions of people who were getting badly hurt by the Shutdown with the understanding that in 21 days, if no deal is done, it’s off to the races!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 26, 2019
For weeks, Trump said he would not sign a funding measure that did not include money for a border wall.
At various points he suggested that he would declare a national emergency to circumvent Congress to build a border wall, but resisted taking such a move, which would surely prompt legal challenges.
The president indicated Friday that if lawmakers do not offer funding for a wall when the three-week measure ends on Feb. 15, another shutdown could begin or he could declare an emergency to build the wall.
“We’ll work with the Democrats and negotiate, and if we can’t do that, then we’ll do a – obviously we’ll do the emergency because that’s what it is. It’s a national emergency,” Trump told reporters in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.
Trump’s announcement that he would sign a temporary spending bill without securing money for a border wall was met with backlash from conservatives, with immigration hard-liner Ann Coulter calling him the “biggest wimp ever to serve as president.”
So did Trump cave to the Democrats or is he playing possum? CNN has been reporting all week that the White House has been working on declaring a national emergency and would get funds to build the wall from various government sources, including the military.
What sounded like a contingency plan has taken on a new significance with the president’s recent statements.
The president made his remarks during a White House event with Hispanic pastors on Friday to discuss the importance of security on the Southern border.
Earlier Friday, Trump specified that he would reopen the government for three weeks to give negotiators more time to work out a border security compromise. A bipartisan committee will work together with the Department of Homeland Security to come up with a border security package for the president to sign.
The president was still adamant about funding more physical barriers on the border.
“If we don’t have that wall and we don’t have a very powerful barrier, it’s all just a waste of time,” he wrote. “It can’t work. Can’t work. So we’ll get it.”
Huckabee’s question to Democrats about whether they want “something or nothing” is pertinent. Pelosi has scored her political points and, if she was smart, she would walk away from the table.
But that would cause howls of outrage from #theresistance. Trump must not only be beaten, but he must also be stomped. The anti-Trump hysteria of Democrats may play into Trump’s hands by forcing Pelosi to stand firm against any wall funding, allowing Trump to delight conservatives by declaring a national emergency on the border.
Trump’s cave-in to Democrats was only round one. Round two may be even more interesting — and contentious.