Today President Trump took the unprecedented step of declaring a national emergency on the southern U.S. border in an attempt to bypass Congress and build his border wall. In his speech, Trump noted that there would undoubtedly be court challenges to his declaration and he might have inadvertently provided ammunition to the challengers.
There were a lot of strange moments during Trump’s “national emergency” press conference today. For example, here’s Trump doing a sing-song play-by-play of how the legal battle surrounding his declaration could play out:
The president describes the process of declaring a national emergency — and getting sued pic.twitter.com/knUzNxznTI
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) February 15, 2019
"….and we will then be SUED, and they will sue us in the Ninth CIRCUIT….and then we'll end up in the Supreme COURT….just like the BAN…"
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) February 15, 2019
During Trump’s fatalistic rant, he noted that the legal challenges could follow a similar path as the court battle over his Muslim ban. The first Muslim ban was struck down, forcing Trump’s administration to rework the executive order so that it might pass muster (which they did, twice). Eventually, the third version of the ban was upheld by the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision.
In order to be deemed constitutional, Trump’s “Muslim ban” had to at least appear as though it wasn’t an attempt to ban an entire religion from entering the United States. Sean Spicer famously insisted it wasn’t a “travel ban” only to later be undermined by tweets from his boss. In legal challenges, Trump’s own words were used by plaintiffs to show that, yes, it was the “Muslim ban.”
During his play-by-play, Trump failed to mention that he was (in part) responsible for hamstringing his own travel ban policy by shooting off his mouth, but he did remember to… shoot off his mouth. Trump said (again, while declaring a national emergency) that he “didn’t have to do this.”
Trump, responding to my question, concedes there’s no national emergency to justify building his wall: “I didn’t need to do this… I just want to do it faster.”
That answer will complicate his legal case.
— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) February 15, 2019
And people definitely noticed. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi noticed:
— Nancy Pelosi (@TeamPelosi) February 15, 2019
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez noticed:
“I didn’t need to do this” is admitting this isn’t an emergency at all.
“I didn’t need to do this” means he’s faking a crisis. https://t.co/TVqp0z4EHI
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 15, 2019
Kellyanne Conway’s husband George Conway noticed:
This quote should be the first sentence of the first paragraph of every complaint filed this afternoon. https://t.co/ClHQhpTaEe
— George Conway (@gtconway3d) February 15, 2019
The director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project definitely noticed, and they took the lead in challenging the Muslim ban:
keep talking mr president
— Omar C. Jadwat (@OmarJadwat) February 15, 2019
Democrats on the House Judiciary committee have already announced that they’re planning on investigating Trump’s fake emergency:
"We are particularly troubled in light of your statement today that ‘I didn’t need to do this, but I would rather do it much faster," the Democrats write, saying they are commencing an immediate investigation into this matter, which raises" constitutional issues
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) February 15, 2019
Meanwhile, Republicans are trying to blame Trump’s unprecedented and dangerous emergency declaration on Democrats:
JUST IN: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: "President Trump’s decision to announce emergency action is the predictable and understandable consequence of Democrats’ decision to put partisan obstruction ahead of the national interest." https://t.co/SarfzYLL5j pic.twitter.com/VOQBqXct4N
— Evan McMurry (@evanmcmurry) February 15, 2019
Democrats’ refusal to negotiate has rendered Congress inept at doing its job to protect Americans. At this point POTUS is absolutely right to use constitutional executive action authority to build the wall and secure our border. This is a national emergency. I fully support him.
— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) February 14, 2019
This blame shifting might be because—just like with Trump’s government shutdown—this latest stunt to please his base and build his wall is very, very unpopular:
p.s. the national emergency option was even less popular than I remembered off-hand. 32% in favor, 65% opposed versus more like 40%/55% for the wall overall. Although, the numbers are so bad they'll probably tighten a bit.https://t.co/i0aq4kPSfm pic.twitter.com/ocXfNkzoar
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) February 15, 2019
But hey, Sean Hannity likes it!
h/t: Washington Post