President Donald Trump is calling bipartisan congressional talks over border wall funding a “waste of time.”
In a White House interview with The New York Times Thursday, Trump again hinted he may declare a national emergency in order to bypass Congress and build the wall without its approval.
“I’ll continue to build the wall and we’ll get the wall finished. Now whether or not I declare a national emergency, that you’ll see ... I’ve set the table, I’ve set the stage for doing what I’m going to do.”
Shutdown? National emergency?
If there is no deal on border security in less than three weeks that Trump would sign, there could be another government shutdown.
If Trump does declare a national emergency, Democrats who don’t want any money for a border wall will probably immediately challenge Trump in court.
The president had strong words for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who has said many times that she will not agree to give Trump the $5.7 billion he wants for a wall.
“I think Nancy Pelosi is hurting our country very badly by doing what she’s doing,” Trump said, adding that while he has always gotten along with her, “I don’t think I will any more.”
Pelosi has said she was open to other kinds of barriers along the border, but Trump said that was unacceptable.
More troops head to border
Meanwhile, the Pentagon said it is sending 3,500 more troops to the U.S. southern border with Mexico to assist with border security measures.
Democrat Adam Smith, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, released the latest troop numbers after slamming the Pentagon’s lack of transparency in a letter to Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.
A defense official confirmed that the Pentagon was sending 3,500 more active duty troops to the border, for a total of 5,800 active duty troops and 2,300 National Guard troops supporting the Department of Homeland Security’s request for additional border security.
The official, who spoke to VOA on the condition of anonymity, added that this “initial pop” in the number of troops would not be sustained through September.
Some of these 3,500 will be replacing troops who will be leaving soon, while others are only assigned to the border for 30 or 60 days in order to set up large coiled barbed wire in specific areas, according to the official.
Without giving any details, Trump tweeted Thursday “More troops being sent to the Southern Border to stop the attempted Invasion of Illegals, through large caravans, into our Country. We have stopped the previous Caravans, and we will stop these also. With a Wall it would be soooo much easier and less expensive.”
Trump, as he often has, claimed erroneously that “Large sections of WALL have already been built with much more either under construction or ready to go.” The U.S. has been repairing existing barriers, which Trump called “a very big part of the plan to finally, after many decades, properly Secure Our Border. The Wall is getting done one way or the other!”
At various times, Trump has called the barriers at the border an impenetrable concrete wall, and other times “steel slats,” or a see-through barrier, even “peaches,” if people preferred.
But on Thursday, Trump said, “Let’s just call them WALLS from now on and stop playing political games! A WALL is a WALL!”
He claimed that Mexico’s soaring murder rate was reason enough to build the wall.
“Very sadly, Murder cases in Mexico in 2018 rose 33% from 2017, to 33,341. This is a big contributor to the Humanitarian Crises taking place on our Southern Border and then spreading throughout our Country. Worse even than Afghanistan. Much caused by DRUGS.”
He said that with the record Mexican murder rate, “why wouldn’t any sane person want to build a wall.