The Court: The President said he didn’t need to declare an emergency, did he not?
The Court: And that he just did so because he wanted it done faster?
Counsel: Yes, your honor.
The Court: How on earth is that an emergency?
Counsel: Hasn’t your time expired?
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) February 15, 2019
Note: the national emergency is so emergency that it will require the president*’s presence on his golf course no later than this afternoon.#BuyCannedGoods
— Charles P. Pierce (@CharlesPPierce) February 15, 2019
Recall the 90 minute presser the day after midterm losses. Here we are again, after a similarly brutal defeat.
— Eliana Johnson (@elianayjohnson) February 15, 2019
And it was hardly a last-minute impulse decision! From the Washington Post, “How President Trump came to declare a national emergency to fund his border wall”:
President Trump knew that lawmakers were unlikely to ever give him the billions of dollars he wanted to build a wall on the southern border, so in early 2018, he gave aides a directive: Find a way to do it without Congress.
It was hardly an easy assignment. The White House had some flexibility to spend money the way it wanted, but could not move the necessary billions at will. Trump could declare a national emergency, but White House attorneys repeatedly warned him the risk of failure in court was high.
On Friday, Trump did it anyway. Stepping to a microphone in the Rose Garden, the president told reporters he was invoking his powers to declare a national emergency, then acknowledged what his lawyers had been warning him: He will get sued and, at least initially, will probably lose.
The remarkable moment, people familiar with the matter say, marked the culmination of months of heated internal deliberations between the White House Counsel’s Office, the Justice Department, the Office of Management and Budget, lawmakers and the president over how to fund the wall…
today is one of those days when a straight description of the president’s behavior sounds partisan and bad faith
“president trump, who appears to be struggling for coherent, ordered thoughts, has declared his intention to circumvent congress to build an unpopular border wall.”
— b-boy bouiebaisse (@jbouie) February 15, 2019
That aspiring autocrats can pre-schedule a "national emergency" is the actual national emergency
— Sarah Kendzior (@sarahkendzior) February 14, 2019
Keep track of the rogues’ gallery here:
The tension came to a head in a March meeting in the White House residence, when Trump learned that his aides had secured only $1.6 billion for border fencing in an omnibus spending bill.
Trump fumed to then-House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) that the funding was a fraction of what he would need and threatened not to sign the measure, according to two people with knowledge of the conversation.
“We gave you what you wanted!” Ryan shot back, the people said.
Swearing profusely, Trump said that was not true and asked Ryan who had relayed such a message. Ryan said it was Trump’s own aides who negotiated the bill, including Marc Short, then the White House legislative affairs director, the people said.
Around that time, aides put out a statement saying the president would sign the bill. That sent Trump into a rage. At one point, he declared the aides did not represent him and the statement should be rescinded, the people said. He was eventually convinced by his equally angry chief of staff, John F. Kelly, to sign the measure — although he remained furious with Ryan and his own team.
Soon thereafter, Trump told aides he had to find a way to get his wall without Congress.
While the emergency declaration was controversial internally, it was not without its supporters, people familiar with the matter said. Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney was a particularly aggressive advocate, having initially formulated the idea in his role as director of the Office of Management and Budget and presented the president with a lengthy memo describing how it would work, the people familiar with the matter said…
After a briefing from Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and others Thursday on details of the final deal, Trump suggested he would not sign — which potentially would have caused another shutdown.
Trump was persuaded to stay on board, but he said he would also declare a national emergency, something Republican leaders had urged him to avoid. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told the president he would encourage others to support the emergency declaration so the president would sign, according to people familiar with the conversations…
2/2 A finite number of people— hundreds, maybe? of whom I’m one—have worked on remarks for prez's to give in this setting
Prez + staff actually *plan* these statements. You’ll find *nothing* before resembling the one today, which was like some crank saying “And another thing.." pic.twitter.com/3BmAth5XNP
— James Fallows (@JamesFallows) February 16, 2019
I ❤️ MY second grader president! pic.twitter.com/OhRwKwNRDr
— Vic Berger IV (@VicBergerIV) February 15, 2019
John Cassidy, in the New Yorker, “A Weak and Rambling President Declares a Fake National Emergency”:
… Here was yet another example of how the G.O.P. leadership’s Faustian pact with Trump has driven them to enable his more authoritarian tendencies. During his Rose Garden address, Trump freely conceded that his emergency decree will immediately be challenged in the lower courts, and quite likely get snagged there. But citing what happened to his travel ban, he said he was hopeful of prevailing in the Supreme Court—an outcome that can’t be ruled out given its conservative tilt…
… After he had finished his peroration, CNN’s Jim Acosta, who is possibly his least favorite reporter, asked him to explain the disconnect between his description of what’s happening at the border and data from his own government that shows border crossings “at a near record low” and “undocumented immigrants committing crimes at lower levels than native Americans.” Trump dodged the question and called CNN “fake news.” The next questioner, Playboy’s Brian Karem, followed up Acosta’s question and asked Trump to say where he gets his figures. “I get my numbers from a lot of sources, like Homeland Security, primarily,” Trump replied. “And the numbers that I have from Homeland Security are a disaster.”
Another of the reporters asked to what degree outside conservative voices had influenced Trump’s thinking on the national emergency. Rather than dismissing the question as impertinent, he said, “Look, Sean Hannity has been a terrific supporter of what I do. . . . Rush Limbaugh, I think he’s a great guy. Here’s a guy who could speak for three hours without a phone call. Try doing that sometime.” Turning to Ann Coulter, who has excoriated the President on Twitter this week for agreeing to a budget deal that won’t fund the wall, Trump recalled that in 2016 she had predicted he would win the election. “So I like her,” he said. “But she’s off the reservation.”…
It will be interesting to see what the courts make of Trump’s admission that, when it came time to declare a national emergency, he didn’t “need to do this.” At the least, it was good to get it on the record from his own lips. Inside the Reagan Administration there used to be a saying: “Let Reagan be Reagan.” In the Trump Administration such a statement would be entirely redundant. The President lets it all hang out: the incoherence, the fabrications, the mendacity, the raging but delicate ego, the attention-deficit disorder, and, occasionally, the revealing shards of self-illumination. He just can’t help himself.
That moment when Trump admits that this is all about the 2020 election.
— Daniel W. Drezner (@dandrezner) February 15, 2019
One national emergency is that Stephen Miller is someone the President of the US relies on for advice.
— Dan Callahan (@dpcesqtex) February 15, 2019