Trump declares national emergency to fund the wall

By Meg Wagner, Brian Ries, Veronica Rocha and Jessie Yeung, CNN

Updated 4:02 p.m. ET, February 15, 2019
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11:13 a.m. ET, February 15, 2019

Sarah Sanders tweets photo of Trump signing national emergency declaration in Oval Office

As President Trump takes questions in the Rose Garden, press secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted a black-and-white photograph of the President signing the national emergency declaration in the Oval Office.

11:12 a.m. ET, February 15, 2019

Trump says generals told him it's worth pulling DOD funds for wall

From CNN's Jeremy Diamond

President Donald Trump defended his decision to pull funds from the Department of Defense military construction budget in order to build a border wall, claiming that "some of the generals think this is more important."

"Some of the generals think this is more important ... far more important than what they were going to use it for," Trump said. "It didn't sound too important to me."

Trump also touted the fact that he's increased the military budget in recent years.

11:23 a.m. ET, February 15, 2019

Trump says he's expecting to be sued over his national emergency

President Trump said he'll sign the final paper work to declare a national emergency to fund his wall as soon as he gets back to his office — and he's already anticipating a legal challenge.

"So the order is signed. And I'll sign the final papers as soon as I get into the Oval Office. And we will have a national emergency," Trump said.

After he signs national emergency and executive action paperwork, Trump said, "We will then be sued," rattling off a possible chain of events, which included bad ruling in the 9th Circuit Court, which he has previously lamented.

"We will possibly get another bad ruling, and then we’ll get another bad ruling, and then we’ll end up in the Supreme Court," Trump said, comparing the process to challenges to his administration's travel ban.

"And then, hopefully, we'll get a fair shake."

What this is about: There has been speculation that Democrats or landowners on the Souther border would sue if President Trump declared a national emergency to build the wall.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said just yesterday that the Democrats could take legal action.

"I may. That's an option," she told reporters Thursday.

Watch the moment:

11:09 a.m. ET, February 15, 2019

Trump confirms: "I'm going to be signing a national emergency"

From CNN's Jeremy Diamond

Speaking from the Rose Garden, President Trump confirmed he will declare a national emergency in order to secure funding to build a wall at the southern border.

He argued that his actions are consistent with those of his predecessors.

"I'm going to be signing a national emergency, and it’s been signed many times before. It’s been signed by other presidents from 1977 or so it gave the presidents the power," Trump said. "There’s rarely been a problem. They sign it, nobody cares. I guess they weren’t very exciting."

The President argued that he is doing so to address "an invasion of our country with drugs, with human traffickers, with all types of criminals and gangs."

"We don’t control our own border," Trump said. "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 we have to do it."

Trump went on to repeat his past talking points about "tremendous amounts of drugs" crossing into the US from the southern border -- even though the majority of those drugs come through ports of entry -- and addressed the issue of human trafficking.

He once again reiterated his claim that El Paso is safer because of the border fencing, despite statistics showing violent crime rates did not go down as a result of the construction of fencing there.

Watch the moment:

11:02 a.m. ET, February 15, 2019

Trump accuses Democrats of lying in "a big con game"

As Trump launched into his immigration speech at the Rose Garden, he pledged action against "the national security crisis on our southern border."

"We are going to do it one way or the other. We have to do it. Not just because it was a campaign promise -- which it is."

He then decried the "drugs flowing into our country" through the southern border, and accused Democrats of lying about drugs entering through ports of entry.

"When you look and when you listen to politicians, in particular certain Democrats, they say it all through the port of entry. It's wrong. It's just a lie. It's all a lie. They say walls don't work. Walls work 100%," Trump said.

"They go through areas where you have no wall. Everybody knows that. Nancy knows it. Chuck knows it. They all know it. It's all a big lie. It's a big con game," he said, referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer.

Some context: In describing the effectiveness of the wall, Trump brought up El Paso, Texas, where he held a rally Monday night. He described the border town's crime rate decreasing since the construction of a border fence — a familiar but inaccurate claim. Violent crime had actually been falling a full decade before the fence was built.

10:50 a.m. ET, February 15, 2019

Trump starts immigration speech with non-immigration talking points

President Trump just began speaking at the White House. The White House said his remarks would be about "the National Security and Humanitarian Crisis on the Southern Border," and we're expecting Trump to declare a national emergency in order to fund his border wall.

But he started his speech by talking about a variety of other issues. Here's a look:

  • On US-China relations: "We are very much working very closely with China and President Xi, who I respect a lot — very good relationship that we have."
  • On US-UK relations: "The UK and the US, as you probably have been seeing and hearing, we are agreeing to go forward and preserve our trade agreement. You know all of the situation with respect to Brexit and the complexity and the problems." 
  • On Syria and ISIS: "We have a lot of great announcements having to do with Syria and our success with the eradication of the caliphate. And that will be announced over the next 24 hours and many other things."
  • On his upcoming summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un: "We are working on a summit. You know all about the summit. It will be in Vietnam — Hanoi. And we will be meeting in Hanoi."

10:40 a.m. ET, February 15, 2019

White House: Trump is declaring a national emergency because Congress is "incapable" of funding the wall

From CNN's Jeremy Diamond

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images
Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said President Donald Trump is declaring a national emergency because Congress is "simply incapable of providing the amount of money necessary in the President's eyes" to secure the southern border.

"We’ve been through a shutdown. We’ve now been through 3 weeks of allowing Congress to try and work their will and they’re simply incapable of providing the amount of money necessary in the President’s eyes to address the current situation at the border," Mulvaney said.

Mulvaney confirmed CNN's reporting from Thursday evening on the breakdown in the funding, with additional money being drawn from the Homeland Security appropriations bill, the Treasury Department's drug forfeiture fund and the Defense Department.

The latter requires the national emergency.

Mulvaney emphasized that the President will NOT be drawing on disaster relief funding for Texas or Puerto Rico.

While Trump initially planned to sign the funding bill during his Rose Garden event, Mulvaney said that is now scheduled to take place "probably later today or tomorrow" because the White House is still waiting to receive the bill from the Senate.

Mulvaney also rejected the argument that Trump's action sets a bad precedent by using his national emergency powers.

"It actually creates zero precedent," Mulvaney said, arguing Trump is using authority given to him by Congress. "This is authority given to the President in law already."

10:12 a.m. ET, February 15, 2019

Democratic leaders are discussing options on how to stop Trump's national emergency

From CNN's Manu Raju

House Democratic leaders plan to make it a top priority to try to approve a resolution to block Trump’s emergency declaration, but they are still trying to sort out exactly how that plays out, per multiple sources involved in the discussions.

The Democrats are studying their various legislative options, and multiple committees will likely be involved, however the House Judiciary Committee might take the lead.

But they have time: The House is in recess next week, so they have some time to discuss their options before they return to session.

10:00 a.m. ET, February 15, 2019

Trump's national emergency can last for a year (unless he renews it)

From CNN's Priscilla Alvarez and Mike Warren


President Trump is expected to declare a national emergency today in order to secure funding for his border wall.

National emergencies can last for one year and then terminate — unless the President renews the declaration 90 days prior, said Robert Chesney, who previously served in the Justice Department and teaches at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law.

But Chesney noted: "Here, even with no renewal, of course the money already would have been reprogrammed—so renewal or termination don't much matter."

Then, every six months, Congress can consider whether to put forward a "joint resolution" to terminate the emergency. 

Here's how the "joint resolution" to end one would look like: Once the House passes the resolution, the Senate has 18 days to vote on it. Even if the Senate passes it, Trump can still override the resolution. And then Congress would have to be able to override his veto.