President Donald Trump on Friday said he has considered using emergency powers to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Those powers could include declaring a national emergency to redirect money from the Defense Department or other sources to fund the wall.
“Yes, I have,” Trump told a reporter who asked if he had weighed using those powers. “I could do it if I wanted.” Asked whether he needed congressional approval, Trump said, “No, we could call it national emergency.”
Trump’s answer confirmed earlier reporting by ABC News, which cited multiple sources familiar with ongoing discussions.
“I haven’t done it, I may do it. I may do it,” Trump added. “But we can call a national emergency and build it very quickly and it’s another way of doing it. But if we can do it through a negotiated process, we’re giving that a shot. Is that a threat hanging over the Democrats? I’d never threaten anybody but I am allowed to do it.”
The remarks came after a lengthy meeting with Democratic leadership about the ongoing partial government shutdown, which dragged into its 14th day on Friday. Negotiations over the shutdown have hinged on a stark disagreement between Democrats and the Trump administration over border wall funding.
Trump and the Democratic leaders emerged separately in the White House Rose Garden after the roughly two-hour meeting in the situation room.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer approached reporters first, describing the meeting as “contentious” and offering no sign of progress in the shutdown standoff.
The president “said he’d keep the government closed for a very long time — months or even years,” Schumer told reporters.
Trump and his allies, however, said the meeting was productive. A bipartisan group of political leaders, including Trump’s senior advisor Jared Kushner and Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, will take place over the weekend, they said.
The outdoor press conference marked the president’s second time delivering in-person remarks about the shutdown to reporters in two days.
In a press event scheduled with almost no advance notice Thursday afternoon, Trump spoke for the first time from the White House briefing room podium to recapitulate his unwavering stance that any deal to fund the government must include money for a border wall.
The president, flanked by border security agents, spoke for less than five minutes in total and answered none of the questions shouted at him by reporters as he left the room.
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