President Donald Trump appeared to suggest Friday that he will announce some kind of border wall action during next week’s State of the Union.
Asked if he expects to declare a national emergency on the wall funding issue, Trump told reporters: “I don’t want to say it, but you’ll hear the State of the Union, and then you’ll see what happens right after the State of the Union.”
“(W)e’re going to make a big step in the next week or so, prior to my doing anything, but actually having a national emergency does help the process,” he added later, speaking at a White House anti-human-trafficking event.
Asked again if a national emergency should be expected, the President said: “I think there’s a good chance that we’ll have to do that. But we will at the same time be building, regardless, we’re building a wall. And we’re building a lot of wall. But I can do it a lot faster the other way.”
“Well, I’m saying listen closely to the State of the Union. I think you’ll find it very exciting,” Trump said.
Trump had made similar comments in a New York Times interview published Thursday.
“I’ll continue to build the wall and we’ll get the wall finished,” he told the Times. “Now whether or not I declare a national emergency – that you’ll see.”
The State of the Union date, February 5, precedes a three-week government deadline of February 15 to reach a deal on border security to avoid another government shutdown.
And the President’s confidence in the bipartisan group of congressional negotiators working to reach a long term agreement on border security has continued to wane.
Trump also claimed that Democrats are “not being honest” in their conference negotiations because of the forthcoming 2020 election, an idea he has previously floated without evidence.
“I know the Republicans want to do something,” he said.
Later Friday, a senior administration official told reporters as part of a background briefing that they had not been aware what the President would or wouldn’t preview earlier in the day.
“I didn’t know what he was going to say today at the press availability today,” the official said. “I haven’t seen today, actually, the comments that he made, but there’s not a problem with addressing the speech.”
The official explained the themes of the State of the Union speech in broad strokes. The official said the theme of the speech is “choosing greatness” and outlined some main areas of focus: the economy, immigration, trade deals – including the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement and the US Reciprocal Trade Agreement Act and the deal with China – infrastructure, lowering the cost of health care and prescription drugs, and national security.
CNN’s Betsy Klein contributed to this report.