President Donald Trump capped months of political drama Friday, announcing he’s signing a bill to fund the government, avoiding another government shutdown, while also taking the extraordinary action of declaring a national emergency to secure additional money for his proposed border wall that congressional Democrats refused to give him.
“I am going to be signing a national emergency,” Trump said.
The president explained his highly controversial move in a Rose Garden announcement, saying “We’re going to confront the national security crisis on our southern border and we’re going to do it one way or the other.”
He said he was taking “critical actions” but “not because it was a campaign promise.”
“We’re talking about an invasion of our country with drugs, with human traffickers, with all types of criminals and gangs,” he explained.
But even as the president sought to cast the situation at the border as a national security and humanitarian crisis, he also made an admission that could be helpful to those mounting legal challenges to his action Friday.
“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,” the president said, seeming to concede that a national emergency was avoidable.
The president asserted that he was not declaring an emergency because of the upcoming 2020 election, despite the fact that building a wall was his key campaign promise in 2016, but accused the Democrats of using the issue for campaigning purposes.
“And the only reason we’re up here talking about this is because of the election, because they want to try and win an election which it looks like they’re not going to be able to do, and this is one of the ways where they think they can possibly win — is by obstruction and a lot of other nonsense — and I think that I just want to get it done faster that’s all,” he said.
As he spoke, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted out a photo of the president signing the emergency declaration.