The president is touting a special announcement about the shutdown. He’s running out of options.

Amid the longest-ever government shutdown, with no end in sight, President Donald Trump has been promoting his own Saturday appearance at which he promised to make an “important statement” about the shutdown and his desire to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

Trump said again Friday that the southern border is a “national security crisis,” citing no evidence. He repeated his claim that “criminals, gang members, human traffickers, [and] drug smugglers” are crossing the border and that only a wall would stop them. He also claimed without evidence that “a lot” of Democrats agree with him but are “afraid” to admit it.

Democrats have remained unified against the concept of a wall, but have offered a number of concessions for additional funding for border security to appease the president and re-open the government. Their most recent offer adds $1 billion to a pot of money for border security, but Trump has not indicated any interested in bargaining.

There remains no agreement on a spending measure that would reopen the government because Trump flatly refuses to make any concessions on funding for his border wall: He opened negotiations by asking for $5.7 billion in appropriations for his wall, and has refused to negotiate on the amount.

The shutdown began last December after Republicans and Democrats passed a spending measure through both chambers of Congress. Trump had agreed to sign it, but at the last minute reneged on his agreement — reportedly because cable news pundits had criticized him for “caving” on wall funding. At the time, he declared that he would be proud to own the shutdown, because border security was so important to his agenda; he has since blamed Democrats for causing it.

Speaking Saturday from the White House lawn, he told reporters that while border officials have “stopped” previous caravans of migrants seeking to immigrate to the United States, now only a physical border wall would suffice. 

“Mexico seems unfortunately powerless to stop them,” said the president, referring to migrants trying to reach the U.S. Many of the migrants he’s speaking about are families with children and people seeking asylum.

“Many got through, broke through the Mexican area where in theory they were guarded and they weren’t well guarded. You have a lot of caravans. If you had a wall, we wouldn’t have this problem,” said the president.

The president also repeated his false claim that the government was already building a border wall, and the funding was needed to continue its construction. “You know, we’re building the wall as we speak. Nobody covers that, and I understand that, but we’re building wall as we speak. We are going to continue,” he said.

In addition to blaming Democrats for failing to fund his wall, he told the public Saturday that Nancy Pelosi wasn’t negotiating with him because “she’s under total control of the radical left.”

Trump, in order to get his wall, has threatened to take a variety of steps to circumvent Congress’ duty to approve a spending budget: he has threatened to declare a national emergency, to force the military to pay for and build the wall, and even to close the border completely until the wall is built.

Any of these options is likely to invite immediate political pushback, legal challenges, and opposition from Americans who are being asked to foot the bill for a wall that Trump repeatedly said Mexico would pay for.


Source: thinkprogress