“Emergency” Open Thread: President #Flopsweat

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…

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 At one point, he declared the aides did not represent him and the statement should be rescinded, the people said.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…

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.

58 replies
  1. 1
    The Midnight Lurker says:

    Money. Who is getting the money?

  2. 2
    germy says:

    Regarding the transcript, I read somewhere that “I didn’t need to do this” has been stricken from the official White House transcript.

  3. 3
    plato says:

    If Schiff thinks ‘the court’ will act this way, he should see their fucking rulings again.

    This fucking 3rd rate SC is rigged for the totus thug and his treasonous party.

  4. 4
    Richard Guhl says:

    Saying that it’s a national emergency that Trump relies on Stephen Miller for advice is false. That’s like saying Hitler relied on Goebbels for advice. Trump only listens to those who echo his prejudices.
    Our national emergency is that we have a President who has the desire to be a dictator and a lot of our fellow citizens are delighted.

  5. 5
    Frankensteinbeck says:

    Note that Trump wanted the national emergency ploy for nearly a year, but it didn’t happen until McConnell gave the go-ahead. Now you know who is in charge.

  6. 6
    Jager says:

    Here in the Golden State (the number 1 Ag state) the only people who support trump are the growers. Now they are whining about not being able to get farm workers. Everything he touches turns to…

  7. 7
    Jinchi says:

    @The Midnight Lurker:

    Money. Who is getting the money?

    That was my first thought as well. Odds are whoever it is will be going to jail someday.

  8. 8
    SRW1 says:


    Regarding the transcript, I read somewhere that “I didn’t need to do this” has been stricken from the official White House transcript.

    Three year olds like to play peekaboo.

  9. 9
    Another Scott says:

    Good morning, everyone.



    Donald Trump considers undocumented immigrants such a national security threat that he stopped hiring them a week ago.

    9:04 AM – 15 Feb 2019

    Yup, yup.

    Imagine what the federal government could accomplish on important problems if we didn’t have a brain damaged racist as President, and had a Senate that didn’t enable him at every turn.



  10. 10
    germy says:


    Gaslight Nation

  11. 11
    NotMax says:

    As part of the belt tightening necessitated by the emergency, Infrastructure Week will be put on hold until further notice. //

  12. 12
    Immanentize says:

    @Another Scott:

    Imagine what the federal government could accomplish

    I do, and thinking about an efficient GOP government scares the hell out of me.

  13. 13
    kindness says:

    Has Trump signed anything yet? All I’ve seen is talk to do so.

    I figure Nancy & the House would vote against it within a day.

  14. 14
    Immanentize says:

    Here is a copy of his national emergency proclamation
    It seems to be a troop deployment plus a land grab.

  15. 15
    Another Scott says:

    @Immanentize: Yeah, there is that… :-/

    However, it seems to me that our country is diverse enough that if we’re able to stop the GOP from choosing their voters (and preventing others from voting), that that type of government is unlikely.

    Rand’s Diebold Variations aren’t an instruction manual…

    Stalin on voting….

    “Eternal vigilance” and all that.


  16. 16
    Suzanne says:

    @Immanentize: I am curious to see if any of the small-government types will object to the seizures of private property required to actually build the damn thing.

    In a “national emergency”, does eminent domain still apply? Or can the property be seized without compensation? IANAL, obviously.

  17. 17

    @Richard Guhl: This. These are the Republican President’s strategies, what he wants. Steven Miller is but a tool.

  18. 18
    plato says:

    Do not count on the courts to save this country. Trump's team packed them for a reason. My warning from October: https://t.co/QS0pHbjoDb pic.twitter.com/0K1Q8NWvih— Sarah Kendzior (@sarahkendzior) February 15, 2019

  19. 19
    Brachiator says:

    A Weak and Rambling President Declares a Fake National Emergency

    Here’s the thing. In a January post here, I qouted a California based GOP political strategist, John Thomas, who said that Trump was going to use the national emergency ploy to get Wall. So even though some Republican leaders may have been against this, others were again lining up to back him all the way.

    And even though Trump sounded like an unhinged megalomaniac, right leaning talk radio hosts here in Southern California said that they admired his audacity in going around Congress.

    Trump is nuts. He clearly has a tendency to reject agreements his own staff put together if hard core advisors and Ann Coulter whisper in his ear. And the crap that he babbles about during rallies or when he gets loose from teleprompters come closest to revealing his true intentions.

  20. 20

    He clearly has a tendency to reject agreements his own staff put together if hard core advisors and Ann Coulter whisper in his ear.

    And just as clearly he’s too chickenshit to do anything if McConnell tells him no. This declaration, the shutdown resolution, the shutdown start, McConnell decided all of them. ‘To placate the whiny bitch in the White House’ maybe, but everything started and stopped when McConnell said so.

  21. 21

    @Frankensteinbeck: So how do we counter Mitch McConnell?

  22. 22

    I know that Sarah Kendzior is considered a prophet by many, but there is something about her that just rubs me the wrong way. I can’t put my finger on it. Its like she is too sure of herself, her relentless doom and her self promotion. Something is off about her. Am I the only one who feels that way.

  23. 23
    David 🎅🎄Merry Christmas🎄🎅 Koch says:

    “We gave you what you wanted!” Ryan shot back, the people said.


    Does anyone believe spineless, sniveling coward Paul Ryan raised his voice to the Fuehrer.

  24. 24

    Voting. Nancy has already slapped the smile off his turtle face once. If we keep voting like we did in the mid-terms, we will keep gaining ground and weapons to fight him with. Until then, thank goodness we DID turn out in the mid-terms.

  25. 25

    @David 🎅🎄Merry Christmas🎄🎅 Koch:

    Does anyone believe spineless, sniveling coward Paul Ryan raised his voice to the Fuehrer.

    Absolutely. Presenting a united front publicly for the sake of the race war is very different from putting up with the whiny toddler’s bullshit in private. Republicans in congress have a decidedly mixed record of giving Trump what he wants. What they have a lockstep 100% record of is defending the Republican right to minority rule.

  26. 26
    Bess says:


    Take back the senate. Make Mitch the minority guy.

    And find the strongest possible candidate to oppose McConnell and give them enormous financial backing and support to get out their message and get out the vote.

  27. 27
    AnotherBruce says:

    @Immanentize: So, are the troops going to build the wall? You never know with this maniac.

  28. 28

    @Bess: @Frankensteinbeck: Yes of course but is there anything we can do right now.

  29. 29
    Immanentize says:

    @AnotherBruce: I believe there is some thought that the CBs will do just that.

  30. 30
    zhena gogolia says:


    I agree. It’s constant self-congratulation and does nothing to help the situation in any way.

  31. 31
    Brachiator says:


    I know that Sarah Kendzior is considered a prophet by many, but there is something about her that just rubs me the wrong way.

    I have no idea who this is.

  32. 32

    @zhena gogolia: Indeed, listen to my podcast and buy my t-shirt. You puny mortals, you are all doomed, I told you so two years ago. And there is nothing you can do about it.
    * She almost sounds gleeful in those pronouncements of doom.

  33. 33

    @Brachiator: Anne Laurie has quoted her tweet above.

  34. 34
    Another Scott says:

    @Immanentize: My understanding is that Donnie can only redirect money that isn’t already allocated. IOW, if DoD has funding for $100M for some project for FY19, and they’ve got a contract in place and have spent (or have a timeline to spend) $95M of it so far this year, then Donnie and his minions would only be able to redirect $5M of it. (Corrections welcome.) I know there are pots of unallocated money, but Congress can easily create a FY20 budget where those pots of unallocated money disappear. And spending that kind of money in 7 months is going to be difficult, even for the DoD.

    CATO said estimates of $24M/mile for a wall are way low.

    Remember how long Keystone XL was battled over…

    Even if the courts decide not to get in the way (and do their jobs), Donnie hasn’t won this – not by a long shot.

    tl;dr – Even if Donnie is able to raid $7B this year, it’s unlikely he can actually spend all of it in such a short amount of time. Especially if there are court and Congressional challenges. And Congress can easily take away the money next year. Donnie can only spend money that Congress gives him (directly or indirectly).

    We’ll see.


  35. 35
    TCS says:

    Open thread?
    I was reading about the El Chapo trial and where he would most likely serve his sentence. Seems that the ADX Supermax in Colorado is the probable facility. It is past time for a public discussion re. Trumps now inevitable incarceration. It is time for all Americans, MAGAs included, to come to grips that POTUS is a criminal. This conversation would help promote this idea. Perhaps a sitting president cannot be indicted but an ex-president certainly can. If the feds cannot convict him, the states will. How and where to confine someone who has been privy to state secrets and shown a willingness to share them cannot be in the general prison population. The prisoners safety must also be considered. Solitary confinement seems best.
    Guantanamo houses what some call enemies of the state, perhaps DT would fit in there.

    ADX seems nice…. http://www.thoughtco.com/adx-s.....tes-972984

    Up the river at Sing Sing?

    Maybe Acosta should ask Donald if he has a preference. I would enjoy seeing that.

  36. 36
    AnotherBruce says:

    @Immanentize: Well I don’t think that there is a contractor anywhere in the world that would deal with Trump. So the contract labor is going to be the troops.

  37. 37
    Alternative Fax, a hip hop artist from Idaho says:

    @Immanentize: Thanks for the reminder that doing QC on docs deemed non responsive to an SEC subpoena is not the worst Saturday reading to be had – that’s quite a feat. I sent you a story and while typing it, I was struck by the notion that you probably not only know the lawyer involved, you probably know the story!

  38. 38
    Brachiator says:


    Anne Laurie has quoted her tweet above.

    Still have no idea who she is. I skimmed over her tweet, since it didn’t say anything interesting.

    Also, I will sometimes look at a Twitter message posted here, but otherwise rarely look at them or follow anyone based on tweets.

  39. 39
    Brachiator says:

    @Another Scott:

    My understanding is that Donnie can only redirect money that isn’t already allocated

    Conservative commentators claim that Trump’s people have already identified funding sources for the Wall.

    They are not coming to this unprepared.

  40. 40
    Alternative Fax, a hip hop artist from Idaho says:

    @schrodingers_cat: You are not. I know people who refer to her as a “doom poarn deza peddler. “

  41. 41
    JMG says:

    @Brachiator: That would be the first time. My bet is that Trump’s staff just made up a list of possible funds to placate him without caring if it can be legally done or not. Anything to get through the day.

  42. 42
    NotMax says:


    Yes and yes again. With the vast majority of front paged tweets, the reaction is “who are these people and why should I assign any weight to what they are saying?”

    When there’s a veritable wall of them, they go unread nearly always and are treated by this reader as being for decorative purposes only, like silver dragees on a cake.

  43. 43

    @Brachiator: She is a scholar of authoritarian Central Asian regimes. She became famous during the 2016 campaign for pointing out the similarities between those Putin friendly despots and our home grown wannabe.

  44. 44
    Emerald says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Kendzior is really good a what she does: studying authoritarian regimes. What she gets wrong is that although Twittler wants us to be one, we’re not.

    I listen to Kendzior’s podcast. It’s full of interesting information but it’s also relentlessly pessimistic. I remember her saying when Twittler took over that he would move very quickly into authoritarianism. He tried, but he couldn’t do it. We are still a nation of laws (so far—I do worry about the SCOTUS).

    We will get rid of these thugs. (And I’m still hoping that the National Butterfly Center will survive. It’s now protected by an act of Congress, but the Center is still scared that they’ll be bulldozed anyway because of the bogus “emergency.”)

  45. 45
    Brachiator says:

    From the Guardian, recent story

    Mike Pence rebuked European powers over Iran and Venezuela on Saturday, in a renewed attack on traditional US allies, rejecting a call by Germany’s chancellor to include Russia in global cooperation efforts.

    Describing the results of Donald Trump’s presidency as “remarkable” and “extraordinary“, the vice-president told senior European and Asian officials the European Union should follow the US in quitting the Iran nuclear deal and recognising the head of Venezuela’s congress, Juan Guaido, as president.

    “America is stronger than ever before and America is leading on the world stage once again,” Pence told officials at the Munich Security Conference, listing what he described as US foreign policy successes from Afghanistan to North Korea.

    This cult of personality shit just never stops. Trump is King of Kings, President of Presidents, the Orange Pharoh.

  46. 46
    thebewilderness says:

    @The Midnight Lurker: How is Trump going to funnel federal money into his crime family pockets through this land grab? was my first question, and my second was how much border land did the Trump crime family buy in 2017?

  47. 47
    Brachiator says:


    She is a scholar of authoritarian Central Asian regimes. She became famous during the 2016 campaign for pointing out the similarities between those Putin friendly despots and our home grown wannabe.

    Ah, ok. I’ve probably read some of her stuff, but by now comparing Trump to authoritarians is old news. It does interest me that pundits, historians, journalists don’t seem to care whether Trump is becoming more of a despot and his negative impact on the country.

    @Emerald: I didn’t know that she had a podcast. What’s the name of it? I might check it out. I don’t care if she’s pessimistic if she has something interesting to say.

  48. 48
    Tenar Arha says:

    @schrodingers_cat: I can’t listen to every one of her podcasts bc I surface from those with my own personal doom & gloom reinforced too much. I’m very much a “those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it” person. And it turns out it wrecks me for fighting, if I hear about every historical similarity & the trajectories of other countries who have fallen into the clutches of kleptocrats.

    But then again she (& Chalupa & a few other women scholars) has helped to make me pay attention better too.

    Anyway, I don’t think she’s a fake or only in this for herself, but like Kevin Kruse or other public historians I follow on Twitter, I definitely think she’s found a niche. & unlike them, I believe she’s not a full time academic, so she does have to self promote to support herself. I agree there, that makes me leery, if nothing else bc the career path of Cassandra is not good for her (or us).

  49. 49
    Tenar Arha says:

    @Brachiator: JIC Gaslit Nation

  50. 50
    zhena gogolia says:

    @Tenar Arha:

    I much prefer Asha Rangappa (different turf, more about Mueller, FBI, etc.). She cheers me up even though she’s no Pollyanna.

  51. 51
    Bill Arnold says:


    Regarding the transcript, I read somewhere that “I didn’t need to do this” has been stricken from the official White House transcript.

    Have you confirmed this?
    I still see it in the official whitehouse transcript but do not trust them with transcripts any more.
    Not really wanting to watch the video again to see how it lines up with the transcript; took brain damage the first watching. It wasn’t just the lack of alignment with real reality; it was also the rambling and mental sloppiness and appallingly disorderly thought for somebody in his position. [1] If a F20 CEO in corporate America had delivered that sort of press conference, the board would have fired him ASAP.
    And another in WaPo atributed to “Bloomberg Government”

    [1] I’ve been harshly criticized when being weak of mind. Trump is in a different class of mental weakness in this press conference.

    For fun,
    Definition of Trump from a Brit (13 Feb 2019 Nate White)

    He’s not even a spoiled rich-boy or a greedy fat-cat.
    He’s more a fat white slug. A Jabba the Hutt of privilege.

    In fact, if Frankenstein decided to make a monster assembled entirely from human flaws – he would make a Trump.

    (And there’s better at the link.)

  52. 52
    Tenar Arha says:

    @zhena gogolia: I’ll have to check Ash R. out, that is, more than the occasional RT by people I follow into my TL.

    This just was in my RTs on Colombia.

    Trump’s emergency declaration + what it means for US democracy over the medium to long term has echoes in my research on Colombian politics in the 20th century 1/

    Under Colombia’s 1886 constitution (in place until 1991), the president could declare a state of siege “in cases of foreign war, or internal upheaval.” This gave him authority to suspend existing legislation, issue extraordinary decrees 2/

    In total, as @RodrigoUprimny + other scholars have shown, Colombia’s normal constitutional order would be suspended for the equivalent of more than 30 years between 1949 + 1991. The press was frequently censored, Congress bypassed, civilians sent before military courts 6/

    ETA spelling

  53. 53
    Bill Arnold says:


    So how do we counter Mitch McConnell?

    Mitch McConnell is a longtime believer in opposition research. Perhaps he needs a competent (and ruthless) oppo effort directed against him:
    McConnell zeroes in on election — his own (ALEX ISENSTADT 06/15/2018)

    Steven Law, a former McConnell chief of staff who oversees the Senate Leadership Fund super PAC, recalled first going to work for the Kentucky Republican in 1987. Shortly after, he was assigned to begin putting together an opposition research file on the former Louisville Democratic Mayor Harvey Sloane, who was planning on running against McConnell three years later, in 1990.

    D.J. Trump thinks of him as a snake. I think more snapping turtle. Turn him over on his back. :-)

  54. 54
    Bill Arnold says:


    Well I don’t think that there is a contractor anywhere in the world that would deal with Trump.

    Major construction contracting companies have surprisingly small operating margins. DJT involvement adds substantial risk.

  55. 55
    NotMax says:

    @Another Bruce

    Minsk & Pinsk Ltd.. Omsk & Tomsk, LLC. Novosibirsk Building & Chowder Cooperative. Plenty of options.


  56. 56
    cliosfanboy says:

    Caught some of fox this am. Ugh. They were pushing all the emergency bullshit, human trafficking, 70,000 arrested, etc….

  57. 57
    NotMax says:


    And probably the non-fictional, on the ropes Binladin Group.

  58. 58
    burnspbesq says:

    If there is ever going to be a massacre of civilians and citizens by ICE, the butterfly sanctuary is my bet for where it happens.

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