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Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press
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Donald Trump declared his “state of emergency,” in order to build the wall he claims the nation needs desperately, except that as soon as he was finished declaring this emergency, standing in the Rose Garden, Trump admitted, “I didn’t need to do this…I just want to do it faster.”
What once began as an easy rhetorical device to whip up supporters on the campaign trail has now devolved into a political morass, leaving no one happy–perhaps even Trump himself.
If Trump thought this move to declare a “state of emergency” would simply please the right-wing base to which he is so often attentive, he was surely let down on that count.
Some right-wing leaders came out swinging hard against Trump.
“The only national emergency is that our president is an idiot,” said author and gadfly Ann Coulter.
Trump tried to distance himself from Coulter, saying he “hardly knows” her, to which she responded by tweeting a photo of herself at the podium at a past Trump rally.
Trump’s emergency declaration will likely find itself knotted up in the courts by way of many lawsuits now–possibly for some time to come.
Where judges deciding those suits might have been willing to give Trump deference in declaring his emergency on national security grounds, the president’s stunning White House admission, “I didn’t need to do this,” may well now undercut that deference.
In any event, Trump certainly handed his opponents important legal ammunition. “That quote is going right in the lawsuit,” tweeted former US solicitor general Neal Katyal.
And then there will be Trump’s political battles over his wall.
Polls indicate the broad American public oppose Trump’s move to declare an emergency as a scheme to build a wall on the southern border.
The Democratically controlled House is looking to pass a resolution of disapproval, which Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would be forced to bring to a vote.
And a number of Republican senators have been coming out opposed to Trump’s action declaring the state of emergency. Most Republican senators say that while they back construction of a wall, many also complain that Trump’s declaration is an unconstitutional end-run around the power of the purse, which is to remain the sole domain of Congress.
These Republicans could back the resolution of disapproval, proving a great embarrassment to Trump and perhaps opening a dangerous fissure within the GOP as they all head into an election year.