Steve Benen (MSNBC/MaddowBlog) has a few choice observations about the “national emergency” declared by Trump today (Feb. 15, 2019).
Today’s emergency declaration is many things, but it’s principally an acknowledgement of a defeat. Trump has effectively surrendered. By signing the declaration, the president is admitting that he couldn’t get Mexico to pay for a wall, he couldn’t get Congress to pay for a wall, and he couldn’t turn to his vaunted negotiating skills to achieve his goal – because those skills don’t exist in reality.
An uncomfortable truth has been laid bare: what Trump billed as his greatest strength has proven to be one of his most glaring weaknesses.
The Washington Examiner, a conservative outlet, published a piece a couple of weeks ago noting that Senate GOP leaders expect “several” of their members to “join with the Democrats to block Trump from declaring an emergency.” The article added, “A second Republican senator, speaking on condition of anonymity, predicted the president would suffer major defections if a vote on a resolution of disapproval is held.”
Enough to override a presidential veto? We’ll soon find out.
To follow contemporary politics closely is to realize that many GOP officials are willing to balk at Trump’s radicalism, right up until it counts, at which point they promptly duck their heads and fall in line. It’s possible, of course, that Republicans will do exactly that once more as the process unfolds in the coming weeks.
But don’t discount the possibility of significant GOP defections on this issue. Republicans have spent quite a bit of time lately urging Trump not to pursue the emergency-declaration course. In fact, many in the party have warned the White House that the party will struggle mightily to remain united if the president follows through on this.
What’s more, as this fight plays out, Democrats will link arms against this radical power-grab, while Republicans argue among themselves over a policy they’ve already admitted is a horrible idea.
One of Trump’s core problems with his government-shutdown gambit is that he picked a fight that united his opponents and divided his allies. Today, the amateur president will make the same mistake again.
Donald Trump delivered a series of rambling comments this morning about his emergency declaration, which was then followed by a rambling press conference. And while the president made a series of odd claims, and repeated some familiar lies, it was his response to a question from NBC News’ Peter Alexander that was probably the one thing Trump will regret saying.
In reference to border-wall construction, the Republican explained why he’s circumventing Congress and the legislative appropriations process.
“I want to do it faster. I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster…. I just want to get it done faster, that’s all.”
He quickly added that this isn’t about his re-election bid, because he’s “already done a lot of wall.” This is, of course, a rather delusional lie.
But Trump’s answer included an element of truth: “I didn’t need to do this.”
The president’s own explanation left little doubt that there’s no pressing “emergency” demanding unprecedented emergency action. Trump effectively admitted that he sees this as a matter of convenience: the American policymaking process would take time, and he’d “rather do it much faster.”
If you’re thinking these unscripted comments might be used against the White House in future litigation, you’re not alone. Indeed, it won’t be the first time.
Benen goes on to list several legal losses because of Trump’s ad hoc slips and concludes that “In a way, Trump’s opponents should probably hope he never stops speaking his mind so freely.”
So what we have here is a president sworn to protect the constitution and to uphold laws now sacrificing the constitution for reasons of convenience.
Trump fakes the numbers
And, he is unable to explain where he get the numbers he uses to manufacture this so-called emergency. Here’s some of the transcript from his announcement today - [Donald Trump unable to explain where his fake immigration crime statistics come from][kos] (reported by Walter Einenkel of the Daily Kos Staff).
If you haven’t already heard, Donald Trump declared a national emergency a short while ago in order to use executive powers to fund the construction of his useless border wall—the one that most Americans do not want. The one that even the Republican-controlled Congress didn’t get around to funding during the last two years of its tenure. Saying that Trump’s wall is a farce is doing a disservice to farces. The excuse Trump gave for building the wall, in between contradicting himself, is that there is humanitarian and security “crisis” at our southern border. To support this, Trump has spouted completely made-up “facts” about immigrant and violent crime rates.
All available government and private data contradict the Trump administration’s assertions. There are fewer undocumented immigrants coming across out southern border. The rate of crime among undocumented immigrants is lower than the national average for any group of people. This has been covered extensively in the media.
Trump took questions from reporters, something he loathes doing, since they ask questions and challenge him to support the stupid hateful ignorance that comes out of his mouth. After a cantankerous exchange with CNN’s Jim Acosta—already once suspended from White House press conferences for challenging Donald Trump—Brian Karem, White House correspondent for Playboy, used his time to follow up. He, like the rest of us, wants to know where the hell Trump gets his numbers.
Karem: Mr. President, to follow up on that. Unifying crime reporting statistics—numbers from your own border control and government—show the amount of illegal immigrants are—
Trump: You have 26 people killed on the border a mile away from where I went.
Karem: I was there. I understand. That’s not the question.
Trump: Do we forget about that?
Karem: No. I’m asking you to clarify where you get your numbers. Most of the DEA crime-reporting statistics show that drugs come through at the ports of entry, that illegal immigration is down, and the violence is down. What do you base your facts on? Secondly—
Trump: No. You get one. Sit down.
Karem: Could you please answer?
Trump: Sit down. I get my numbers from Homeland Security primarily, and the numbers I have from Homeland Security are a disaster. You know what else is a disaster? The numbers that come out of Homeland Security for the cost that we spend and the money we lose because of illegal immigration. Billions and billions of dollars a month. It’s unnecessary.
Karem: Your own government stats are wrong?
Trump: No. I use many stats.
Karem: Could you share those stats with us?
Trump: You have stats far worse than what I use. I use many stats. I use Homeland Security.
This person just took billions from national security in order to fund less national security, based on nonexistent statistics and crime rates that the people in his corrupt administration haven’t been able to cook up to match his dumb mouth yet.
Let’s declare some real emergencies
Nancy Pelosi summed up Trump’s bogus emergency in the New York Times this way.
"The president is doing an end run around Congress,” Ms. Pelosi told reporters. She suggested that Mr. Trump was setting a precedent for future Democratic presidents to act on issues like gun control — precisely the scenario that scares Republicans.
"You want to talk about a national emergency, let’s talk about today,” Ms. Pelosi said, reminding Mr. Trump that it was the anniversary of the shooting massacre last February at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Seventeen students and staff members were killed. “That’s a national emergency. Why don’t you declare that emergency, Mr. President? I wish you would.”
Just so you know: here come the lawsuits. HuffPost reports that Lawsuits Against Trump’s National Emergency Declaration Start Rolling In. A Washington ethics group was the first to sue, and lawmakers say it won’t be the last.